WHEELING - Ohio Valley Black Caucus President Delores Wiggins will take her allegations of police, judicial and prosecutorial misconduct through local channels before calling for a federal investigation.
During a Thursday meeting at the Doc Horton Center in East Wheeling, Wiggins said she has received several complaints of racial discrimination and corruption leveled against Wheeling police and Ohio County prosecutors, magistrates and judges.
On Friday, she said if the matter cannot be resolved locally, she will take the issue to the U.S. Department of Justice.
"I first intend to talk with Wheeling Chief of Police Shawn Schwertfeger," she said. "We are good friends. He is a fine man and I can talk to him."
Wiggins said she intends to discuss discrimination in the courts, misconduct by a magistrate and racial profiling by police officers. She declined to name specific individuals.
"I hope I can iron these things out with the chief," she said, "but, if we can't get it resolved, I will go the city manager and city council. If they can't help me, I will go the Justice Department."
Schwertfeger said Friday, "I look forward to talking with her. She and I have had productive conversations in the past."
He said he had not been notified of Thursday's meeting but he is concerned about the allegations.
He defended his officers late Thursday, and said he has neither witnessed nor heard about misconduct within the department.
"I don't tolerate that type of behavior by officers," Schwertfeger said. "I don't believe it's going on, but if it is, I'll deal with it."
The chief said he established an Office of Professional Standards shortly after taking over and he encourages anyone with a complaint to voice it there.
U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia William Ihlenfeld said he is unaware of any complaints alleged by Wiggins.