CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — Over the last month change has been a way of life for Clarksburg government including new council members, a new mayor, new city manager and soon a new police chief. Now, more changes are under consideration.
Since May of 2017 the Harm Reduction Program, a needle and disease testing organization has operated in downtown Clarksburg. Citizens and businesses have expressed concern about safety and security, Mayor Ryan Kennedy said.
On MetroNews affiliate, WAJR Radio’s Talk of the Town Tuesday, Kennedy said there have been problems with the program.
“People congregating, people sometimes shooting up in broad daylight on a Thursday afternoon, people going into business and stealing things or causing other trouble and some businesses have actually left the downtown because of some of the issues,” Kennedy said.
The mayor and council members have the authority to completely shut the program down, but that’s not what they would prefer to do.
“We’re trying to find that balance of where we can still offer people help that need help and want help and we can also have safe streets and a thriving business community,” Kennedy said.
The current proposal being considered would regulate any entity selling or giving away needles, Kennedy said.
“I wanted to see if there’s a way to put some reforms in place, to lock it down a little bit more, so we can still give some benefit for the people or need this service but at the same time it would have as much of a negative impact on our citizens,” Kennedy said.
The balance-striking effort also extends to the city’s homeless population.
“What we’re trying to do now is to go in, break up the homeless camp, but at the same time have social workers riding alongside the police officers so that we can get people help,” Kennedy said. “Try to get them the housing, the drug treatment, whatever they need so they won’t end up back in the homeless camp again.
Clarksburg council meets again Thursday night.