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Police chief asks for more officers

Update given on 2017 for IPD

Ironton Police Department Chief Pam Wagner spoke to the city council on Thursday to give them an update on what the police had done in 2017 and to ask to have a talk about increasing the number of officers.

“The year 2017 was very busy for the Ironton Police Department,” she said. “We have seen a major, major opioid epidemic” that has been devastating to their budget.

Wagner said last year, the department answered 11,174 calls, towed 297 vehicles, did 681 incident reports, 253 crash reports, and arrested 973 people. 204 people were arrested on warrants. There were 407 traffic citations.

The Major Crimes Task Force had 32 drug cases go to court, with three cases pending, 11 guilty pleas and the other 18 cases were plead out. The department seized $5,500 in forfeited money and has $11,201 pending the outcome of cases.

“We gave you a $10,000 transfer,” said Councilman Craig Harvey of the 32 cases. “That is a lot of bang for our buck.”

She also recited some sadder statistics.

“We answered over 89 overdose calls, with six confirmed overdose deaths,” Wagner said, adding that on 56 of those calls, the Ironton Fire Department went with the police. “I give you that statistic to let you know that you have two emergency services that are just working their tail ends off over this opioid epidemic.”

She said that every overdose call is treated like a crime scene, the same as if it were a homicide or suicide.

“So, if we are called out, the fire department is there and at least one road unit and one, if not both, of my detectives out,” she said. “So if I have three units on the road, I have one tied up at the overdose scene and there is a crash, then the city is being patrolled by one officer.”

Wagner said the reason she brought this before council was that they have to have a long, hard talk about where public safety is going in Ironton.

“I love my county and I love my city. I have worked here for 22 years and I do not want to be Huntington,” she said. “That is the direction we are headed.”

She said the department is working on getting equipment for the officers, such as new cruisers and TASERs, which are supposed to come in soon, but they needed to talk about staffing.

She said when she was hired in; she was one of 22 officers. Now there are 15.

“I have 12 road officers, and we have had two overdose deaths this week,” Wagner said. “This is the 11th day of January. We have to have some personnel at some point.”

She said of all the cities in the area of a similar size, Ironton is the only one without a dedicated drug unit.

“We have two detectives who are trying to work drug cases and we have officers coming off the road trying to help,” Wagner said. “But I can’t send somebody to go buy dope, if I have an accident. It’s a discussion that has to be made, this is not a problem that is getting easier and it’s not going to go away.”