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On Monday, October 1, 2018 Clarksburg City Officials held a meeting that brought local organizations together to continue the discussion of what can be done to reduce the homelessness and transient population, and the overall drug problem that plagues the population in Clarksburg and surrounding areas. The discussion was moderated by Mark McMillion of McMillion Leadership Associates. The forum was opened up by addressing the concerns that local organizations are having; miscommunication amongst local entities, misuse of facilities, transient people vs. homelessness, drug use, lack of laws, and the misunderstanding of what law enforcement can do by law.
Recently, Clarksburg City Manager, Martin Howe, along with other city officials, reached out to Executive Director of the Clarksburg Mission, Chris Mullett, to open the doors of communication. “Because Martin opened those doors of communication, we have already created positive pathways to solutions, stated Mullett. Those doors of communication are what helped lead to the meeting on Monday.”
There are two types of homeless, the temporary homeless and long term homeless. Those who are temporarily homeless do not want to be this way and are looking for the resources to get out of their current situation, and then, there are those who are uninterested in taking part of services which could be provided to them, known as long term homeless or transient people.
Clarksburg Library and Centra Bus officials expressed their concern with the misuse of their facilities, and the steps they have had to take to prevent these transient people from being in their parking lots, and hanging around their facilities. Both organizations have retained security, who work hand in hand with the Clarksburg Police Dept., to prevent a large presence of transient people from overrunning their parking lots and the facilities they have to offer. Since retaining security, both organizations have seen a decrease in transient people just “hanging out”, but this does reduce the services they could be providing to their patrons.
Many in attendance were concerned with why the police were not doing more to “take care” of the problem of the transient people that Clarksburg has seen an influx of. Addressing the problem, Clarksburg Police Chief Robbie Hillard and Deputy Chief Jason Snider, explained that these people have to be breaking the law in order to be arrested, and laws that are in place carry no time at all. There is a misunderstanding of what police can and cannot do because of current laws, and laws that do not exist because of a violation of someone’s Constitutional Rights. “If we can arrest someone then we will, but otherwise we can just tell them to move”, explained Chief Hillard.
Another concern that afflicted the meeting was the drug use of the transient population, which led to the explanation to the understanding of what law enforcement and organizations can do about this problem. Police cannot arrest a person 21 years of age or older for public intoxication, which includes illicit drugs or alcohol, but can be cited at the discretion of the officer, and detained, but currently there is no location to detain these people to, because the area lacks a public intoxication center. Area treatment centers revealed that there is no detox for Methamphetamine, and patients can sign themselves out of treatment center as soon as they are considered sober.
The meeting was informative to those stakeholders in attendance, and allowed them to recognize problems that needed to be focused on so they could move forward with solutions to the problems that Clarksburg is facing. One local leader expressed that we were not here to move the problem, but we are here to fix the problem.
The organizations who were in attendance for Monday’s meeting were officials from: The City of Clarksburg, The Clarksburg Police, Central West Virginia Transportation Authority, The Clarksburg Public Library, The Mission, Harrison-Clarksburg Health Dept., Highland-Clarksburg Hospital, United Hospital Center, and The Summit Center, other stakeholders were invited, but unable to attend.
The group of stakeholders will be hosting another meeting at a future date, which will include additional entities.
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