BEVERLY-Efforts to stem the tide of recent breaking and enterings in the village of Beverly seem to be having an impact-and there's more to come, according to village officials.
Responding to concerns from citizens, the village council in April approved the hiring of more police officers and gave up a month's salary to offer as a reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the crimes.
"The reward has given our police department some additional information they may not have otherwise received about the suspects," Beverly Mayor Rex Kenyon said Wednesday.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Beverly Village Police Chief Mark Sams monitors local traffic Tuesday afternoon. Sams says the hiring of more police officers and the offering of a $1,000 reward are helping to reduce a recent rash of breaking and enterings in the village.
He added that the village is also planning to install surveillance cameras in various locations to help monitor criminal activity and is currently in the process of working with a camera company.
"This is not to infringe on anyone's privacy. The objective is to provide a source of evidence," Kenyon explained. "When a crime does occur, the suspect or his vehicle can be caught on camera."
He said several cameras would be strategically placed on public right of ways throughout the village.
Securing Beverly Village
One full-time and two part-time police officers have been hired since April. Another part-time position is open.
The police department is also currently taking applications for five non-paid auxiliary officers who will work a minimum of eight hours a month as part of their Ohio Police Officer Training Academy requirements.
The mayor and council's salaries were suspended in May to help offer a $1,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for recent breaking and enterings in the village.
Council is in the process of working with a camera company to obtain several surveillance cameras that will be located throughout the village to help monitor for criminal activity.
Donations to help cover the additional security measures may be made by contacting the Beverly Village offices at 984-2694.
Beverly Police Chief Mark Sams said the village council's actions are working.
"Since the new hires criminal activity has decreased, although it still continues," he said, noting last weekend's robbery of the local Domino's Pizza shop.
"That's the first armed robbery we've had here in several years," Sams said.
He said the department has hired some part-time people and increased patrols, which seems to have helped cut down on some of the recent crime.
The police department was operating with a skeleton crew for about five months before the village council approved the hirings.
Sams said there are now three full-time and two part-time officers, and there is still one more part-time opening to be filled.
"We're also currently taking applications for up to five auxiliary officers," he said. "They will be OPOTA (Ohio Police Officer Training Academy) certified officers who will work a minimum of eight hours a month as part of their training requirements."
The auxiliary officers are non-paid positions.
Sams said the village mayor and council gave up their salaries for the month of May so that a $1,000 reward could be offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those involved in the breaking and enterings.
"That's resulted in a lot of phone calls and leads," he said. "People are even approaching officers on the street to provide information, and this has been good info that's generated some suspects for us."
No arrests have been made so far, but Sams said the department is making good progress in the breaking and enterings investigations.
The B&W Pharmacy has been broken into twice since March 11, when a suspect entered through the roof of the building and made off with an undisclosed amount of property, according to a Washington County Sheriff's Office report.
The pharmacy was entered the second time on June 18, and the take included several bottles of hydrocodone pills.
B&W co-owner Jarrod Kasun said the store is among several pharmacies in surrounding counties that have been broken into in recent months.
"I think the city is doing all it can to cut down on these crimes, and it's just a matter of time before these people are caught," he said.
Kasun said the addition of officers has enabled the local police department to maintain a 24-hour presence that helps deter criminal activity.
"But people also need to be alert and call the police when they see something suspicious going on," he said. "If it turns out to be nothing, at least the police were contacted and can investigate, which is their job."
Kasun added that the Washington County Sheriff's Office, which assists Beverly police with law enforcement, has also added more deputies recently, and that will benefit the village as well as the whole county.
Sheriff Larry Mincks says Beverly is on the right track.
"Anything extra they can do is certainly a help in reducing these crimes, and I applaud their efforts," he said. "There's been a lot of activity involving pharmacies in southeastern Ohio, including the McConnelsville, Caldwell and Cambridge areas. It could be the same people hitting these businesses."
Mincks said the pharmacy breaking and enterings are almost all prescription drug-related, and suspects often target smaller communities because of a perceived lack of law enforcement.
In addition to B&W Pharmacy, Sams said other Beverly businesses have experienced break-ins, including the Family Dollar store, Dough Boyz Pizza, and there was an attempted break-in at Christopher Associates.
He said there have also been a couple of burglaries at private residences.
Mincks said his office is working to provide the village with some advanced technology that should help with the crime reduction efforts.
"We're going to turn over a license plate reader that will be installed in one of their cruisers to use in identifying suspect vehicles," he said. "In fact, the village was originally slated to receive a license plate reader but they decided not to take it, so we received that unit. Now the village can make use of it, and we'll still have one left here for our office."
Sams said the expense to hire the new officers came out of the police department's budget.
"We had to cut back in some other areas to compensate," he said. "For example, we have newer cruisers that don't require as much maintenance as the old units did, so we were able to use some of that money."
Beverly village clerk Pam Jackson said funds to hire the additional police have not impacted any other services.
"All of that was done within the police department's budget," she said. "We've also had some donations come in for the department, in addition to the $1,000 reward money that came from the mayor and council salaries."
Jackson said the police department's total annual budget is $180,000, which includes payroll, benefits, insurance, vehicles and other police-related expenses.
She said anyone interested in donating to the police effort can call the village office at 984-2694.