HUNTINGTON, W.Va. – The acting director of National Drug Control Policy has now seen some of the steps Huntington is taking to fight drug, property and violent crime.
Michael Botticelli toured parts of Huntington earlier this week with 3rd District Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV) and Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.
The focus of the Wednesday tour was on the River to Rail Initiative which launched in 2012 and is aimed at eliminating drug activity in the Central City area of Huntington’s West End. Most of the drugs flowing through there, Huntington Police have said, come from Columbus, Oh. and Detroit, Mich.
Williams said his city is looking for assistance from the federal government with those targeted efforts.
“We’re doing everything we can to help ourselves — hiring police officers, working in the neighborhoods with churches and everything,” Williams said. “If the Lord’s going to help those who help themselves, why can’t the federal government help us too?”
He said Huntington had success with a federal partnership for the Weed and Seed Program from 2008 to 2010. It was focused on the Fairfield area where open air drug markets and crack cocaine dominated. The idea was to “weed out” drugs and crime and “plant seeds” of community action.
According to Huntington Police, those steps lead to a 35 percent decrease in drug offenses and a 28 percent decline in violent crime.
Williams said the same kinds of results are possible on the West End. “You can’t arrest your way out of the problem,” he said from Bridgeport Thursday where he was attending the 45th Annual West Virginia Municipal League Conference.
During his visit to Huntington, Botticelli also visited the Cabell Huntington Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and the Healing Place Rehabilitation Facility.