MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — Forty two. That’s the number of drug houses shut down through the Drug House Ordinance tool in the city of Martinsburg.
The ordinance compels landlords to clean up tenant issues at their properties and prevent future illegal drug activity.
If a tenant is arrested for drug dealing activity at a property in the city, an Order of Abatement can be opened up against the landlord.
Penalties can range from fines and forfeiture of rental licenses to jail time.
Police Chief Maury Richards says three years ago, he and his leadership team looked at the drug issue in the city:
“There are thousands of rental properties here in Martinsburg. I believe we’ve got eight thousand residences and almost 50 percent are rental properties. It’s not like a big city situation where you have these open-air drug markets and people are lined up. They were coming from individual properties, usually rental properties, and we needed a different type of strategy to attack that.”
He says most landlords have taken steps to make sure the criminal activity doesn’t happen on their properties again.
“Ninety percent reduction in repeat calls for service, and I think that number says it all.”
Richards was a guest on Tuesday’s Panhandle Live on MetroNews Affiliate WEPM.