WHEELING, W.Va. — Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger is proud to serve and represent Wheeling and northern West Virginia no matter what he does.
Schwertfeger’s service to the area will now be expanded as he was unanimously elected to serve on the Appalachia High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Executive Board representing law enforcement in the Northern District of West Virginia. He joins U.S. Attorney Bill Powell on the board in representing that district.
“I am very honored to have been selected to represent the district,” Schwertfeger said. “I take that responsibility very seriously. I am looking forward to continuing my education as it relates to drug trafficking and the drug problems overall.”
The High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) program has several organizations across the country to fight against the drug epidemic and provide funding to task forces in the areas with boards that consist of federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies and prosecution offices. The Appalachia HIDTA area includes 90 counties in West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin and U.S. Attorney Mike Stuart represent counties in the Southern District of West Virginia on the board.
Appalachia HIDTA’s office is located in London, Kentucky. Schwertfeger attended his first executive board meeting for Appalachia HIDTA in late January in Lexington, Kentucky and said he has plenty of goals coming out of it.
“Look into additional ways to fight this problem, to help addicts, training for police officers, additional funding for enforcement operations, and networking,” he said.
Schwertfeger added that networking while on the board is key because he can gather more information to help his area.
“Ask what is working in your area,” he said. “We don’t always see what is happening in the Tennessee or southwest Virginia. It’s an opportunity to break bread with leaders in law enforcement from these areas and to hear and talk about what they are seeing, what is working, and vice versa.”
The Northern Panhandle has not always been apart of Appalachia HIDTA as Schwertfeger said he traveled to Washington D.C. with other local law enforcement to meet and discuss the drug crisis in that area with congressional leaders from West Virginia. Through those conversations, Schwertfeger said the Northern Panhandle counties in the state received the designation and became eligible for Appalachia HIDTA.
Once being designated and eligible for Appalachia HIDTA, the drug task forces in the area receive federal funding.
Schwertfeger said being designated and getting to work on this board will go a long way in fighting the drug crisis.
“As long as you’re vested in it and I am,” he said. “That’s why I gladly accepted this role to not just continue to bring funding to our area but to truly learn more about the issues from the people who know way more than I do.
“HIDTA will bring in educators in a variety of topics. The more I can learn, the better and more efficient I can be as a law enforcement leader in the Northern Panhandle.”
Schwertfeger is originally from Marshall County and graduated from West Liberty University. He became the Chief of Police in Wheeling in 2012 after 21 years of service in Charlottesville, Virginia. Read more on his background at the Wheeling Police Department’s website.
HIDTA is administered by the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). ONDCP was created by the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, which is a component of the Executive Office of the President.