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Voters Say One Officer Per Cruiser Is Enough

November 7, 2012
By TYLER REYNARD Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Voters on Tuesday adopted an ordinance that would rescind and repeal the law requiring two police officers to occupy patrol car in favor of empowering the police chief to make the necessary assignments.

Unofficially, 6,773 voted to adopt the ordinance and repeal the law, while 3,905 voted to keep the 40-year-old law on the books.

City Council this summer, by a 6-1 vote, agreed to place a citywide referendum regarding the law on the general election ballot, with Councilman Robert "Herk" Henry the lone dissenter. Henry, a former police officer, has been a longtime proponent of the law.

Article Photos

Photo by Casey Junkins
Wheeling City Councilman Robert “Herk” Henry, left, and former councilman Vern Seals sit in the Wheeling City-Council building as votes are tallied Tuesday evening.

Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger could not be reached for comment Tuesday night, but he previously said if the decision was his, he would rescind the law. He said he would prefer to have the flexibility to allocate resources as he sees fit.

The Wheeling Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 38 filed an injunction last month to prevent the vote, claiming city leaders made procedural errors in how they voted on the matter. Multiple attempts to reach FOP President Thomas Howard since the motion was filed have been unsuccessful.

The city has not yet addressed the motion, and the 30-day response period does not expire until later this month.

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