By: Lydia Crawley
The Parsons Advocate
Tucker County Sheriff Jake Kopek updated the Tucker County Commission on the recent grant application his department is working on to fund an additional School Resource Officer. According to Kopec, the department is working on acquiring a second grant funded School Resource Officer. “The Sheriff’s Office is currently working on a second grant funded School Resource position for the purpose of supplying security to our children in our school system,” Kopek said. The effort is assisted by the Tucker County Commission and Community Corrections, according to Kopec. Kopec said. “The folks at the County Commission and Community Corrections are helping us with what we need to get that together.”
Currently, the County has only one SchoolResource Officer to serve three schools, Kopec said. “We currently have one School Resource Officer and he floats between all three schools,” Kopec said. According to Kopec, his department’s goal is to have one full time officer for the High School and a second officer for the two Elementary Middle Schools in the County. “What our targeted ideal would be to have one full time at the High School and then one that went to both of our middle school and elementary schools,” Kopec said.
Tucker County Commission President Mike Rosenau commended Kopec and his officers on their increased presence at sporting events. “Just wanted to comment on your department, Jake,” Rosenau said. “I’ve noticed the presence at the ball games, too. Emotions get high at ball games sometimes and just the presence of an officer there, I want to thank you for that and your staff.”
According to Kopec, he is always looking for ways to improve and increase his department’s presence in the community. “We’ve increased that,” Kopec said. “We always take a look at things where we could improve and that was one thing that I saw that we could improve in so we’ve been having some more police presence at the ball games.”
Kopec said the effort is helping. According to Kopec, the governing body for High School football has updated their regulations and requested police escorts to and from locker rooms for the referees. “It seems to help,” Kopec said. “We had an event, a pretty good-sized event, the school did a wonderful job getting it together for the play-off games for the football. The WVSSAC, they have changed some of their rules. They want a police presence to escort the referees to and from the locker room.”
Kopec said the WVSSAC requirement has added time to officer presence. Kopec also said that he has volunteered his time towards the time that presence entails. “That requires an officer to show up not at the game, but two hours before the game even starts,” Kopec said. “So, then you got two hours before the game starts and then the game and then after the game. I took that on myself on my time off to go and do that. There were times I was sitting in the parking lot until even the game was over watching for the refs to get them to their vehicles.”
Kopec said the officials have been pleased with the effort he and his department put into the play-off games. According to Kopec, he received gratitude for his effort and the hospitality the referees received in Tucker County.
“It worked out wonderfully,” Kopec said. “The refs said every play-off game, ‘This is just wonderful. There’s so much hospitality within Tucker County. Thank you.’ They were really impressed.” Kopec also informed the Commission that there has been an increase in theft in the County. Kopec attributed the increase to the economic downturn and the effects the economy is having on the residents of Tucker County. Kopec also said that several of the cases have had suspects developed and arrests have been made, as well. “We’ve seen an uptick in not just house break-ins, but vehicles getting broken into,” Kopec said. “We’ve noticed we’ve had an increase in shoplifting. We’ve had an increase in theft from family individuals.” Kopec said the new camera system installed at the Courthouse has assisted in apprehending the suspect in a series of car break ins in the Parsons area. According to Kopec the suspect was captured on camera breaking into vehicles, but the images were blurry. Kopec went on the say that since the suspect was seen walking by the Courthouse, the footage from the Courthouse cameras led to identification and arrest of the suspect in the case. “Something that helped tremendously and it was a grant that was done by the Commission here within the last six months for upgrading camera systems within this building,” Kopec said.
“And those camera systems actually helped us to locate the suspect.” Kopec went on to say that the car breakins have stopped in Parsons as a result. “The vehicle thefts have stopped in Parsons,” Kopec said. “So, that’s wonderful.” Kopec said his department has been working with State and local law enforcement on the thefts in Tucker County. “Our officers are doing a wonderful job,” Kopec said. “The State Police also handled several of them and the City Police. We all took different cases and was able to work together with that suspect and get some warrants done and get that resolved.”