Residents also need to do their part in combating crime

Ralph Fletcher is only in the second month of his tenure as sheriff of Hancock County, but we already like what we see.

In law enforcement for three-plus decades, most with the Weirton Police Department where he served five years as chief, his career also included 10 years as special investigator for the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office.

He now is making his presence known in northern Hancock County.

The sheriff, along with county commissioners, staged what was a Q-and-A this week with Newell residents. There’s been a rash of burglaries within that community, and both residents and Fletcher wanted to address the matter.

Despite some tension-filled moments, we believe the river community left satisfied with Fletcher and the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department’s effort toward ending the crime spree.

Fletcher said he intends to keep officers in the unincorporated parts of the county, which includes Newell. That was met with applause from the 150 or so residents in attendance.

We also applaud his other intentions: increase detectives working major crimes, boost patrols in high-crime areas, return professionalism to officers who don’t show it, add deputies to the force, and establish zone patrols.

Fletcher comes across as a fiery individual. That was evident in his back-and-forth with Newell residents. One can see that in the photo that accompanied the story.

He exudes a “you won’t get anyway with that in my county” type of confidence. And that’s what’s needed.

Fletcher appears in command. Doesn’t want beat. And is willing to exhaust all efforts to make sure the job gets done.

That’s why we believe those responsible for the rash of home and vehicle burglaries in the Newell area will be apprehended.

Fletcher said he recently sent eight plain-clothes officers to the community to conduct surveillance and purposely trip alarms. However, he reported that no call was made to the sheriff’s department to report suspicious activity.

He was disappointed in the lack of concern from residents. So are we.

The sheriff’s message to Newell residents – one in which we fully support – is that they, too, play a huge role in reducing the crime in their neighborhoods.

Residents there, and in all communities, need to become involved. Contact law enforcement when something out of the ordinary seems to be taking place. Provide tips. Watch out for your neighbor. Perhaps even organize a neighbor watch group.

It’s an old adage, but remember “it’s better to be safe than sorry.”