Prosecutor addresses drug enforcement efforts

By Sandi Latimer, Staff Writer 

Madison County Prosecutor Stephen J. Pronai recently addressed concerns about drug enforcement in West Jefferson and around the county.

Pronai attended the March 17 West Jefferson village council meeting at the re-quest of council Vice President Steve Johnston, who said some residents are asking what the police are doing to stop the drug problem.

“The public perception is that nothing is being done,” Johnston said.

Pronai said the entire county has a drug problem and that law enforcement officers are working throughout the county to try to stem the problem.

He said it is difficult to imprison people who have been convicted of drug offenses.

“The state wants to lower the prison population,” he explained, adding that heroin dealers are being sentenced to probation or counseling, and the success rate is not all that great.

Questions were raised about officers, including Arc, the West Jefferson Police Department’s drug-sniffing dog, working on drug cases in nearby Columbus.

Pronai said such arrests are keeping drugs out of West Jefferson. Additionally, drug-sniffing dogs from other communities are helping out locally. It takes more than one dog to work the schools, he said.

New police officer

In other law enforcement news, Patrick Milstead was sworn in as West Jefferson’s newest full-time police officer. Milstead has worked part-time for the department since October. The department now has 12 full-time officers. Prior to his work at West Jefferson, Milstead worked part-time in Phillipsburg in Montgomery County.

Parking and towing

Earlier this year in connection with the heavy snowfalls, the village had several residents’ cars towed because they impeded street clearing efforts. Some residents complained about the lack of notice and the cost of parking tickets and towing fees. 

Since then, Mayor Darlene Steele and Police Chief Terry Ward have met several times to discuss the issue. Steele said the discussions resulted in no changes to village policy, although officers will handle things “kinder and gentler.”

In the future, officers will put stickers on vehicles that violate overtime parking regulations, giving owners 48 hours to move the vehicles before they are towed.

Council’s next meeting will take place at 7 p.m. April 7 in council chambers located on town hall’s second floor.

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