The Times West Virginian

December 24, 2013

White Hall mulls false alarm charges

By Emily Gallagher
Times West Virginian

WHITE HALL — A discussion has been started in White Hall concerning false burglary alarms.

During Monday’s meeting, town council discussed doing research on possibly creating an ordinance that would allow White Hall’s Police Department to bill businesses if they were called to a false burglary alarm.

Councilman Chad Corley started the discussion by talking about how many false alarms were reported by police officer Cliff VanPelt during the meeting’s police report.

VanPelt told council that from Jan. 1 through Dec. 22, the White Hall Police Department has responded to 92 business burglary alarms and nine residential burglary alarms.

“The majority of them are false alarms,” he told council.

Corley said his concern is the cost of the town’s police officers to attend to these false alarms.

“I really think it needs to go back on the businesses,” he said. “I think we need to evaluate and come to a common ground on what we can assess these businesses on these false alarms.”

He added that in some cases, White Hall’s police officers are being taken away from other duties, jobs, and in the middle of the night.

“I think there needs to be some form of accountability,” Corley said.

Corley said in towns and cities in the area have an ordinance like the one he would like to see be created in White Hall. He said in most cases there can be a charge after so many false alarms.

“Let’s say they get so many (false alarms) for free per month,” Corley said. “Obviously things are going to happen, there’s a leniency there.”

Mayor Guy Ward said he will meet with White Hall Police Chief Geno Guerreri to get more detailed statistics on the 92 burglary alarms. Town attorney J.T. Hodges said he will do research on neighboring towns and cities.

Ward said the issue will stay on the agenda for the time being.

In other business:

• Council distributed their Hotel/Motel Tax funds. Council passed a motion to give West Virginia Three Rivers Festival $4,700; Valley Falls State Park Foundation, $5,000; and the Town of Rivesville, $2,500.

Buddy Myers, president of Valley Falls State Park Foundation, said the foundation was just given the status of a nonprofit organization. Myers gave a presentation to council explain to council that the foundation raises money to support the park.

Myers said the foundation wants to open a small gift shop-like building in park.

• Next council meeting will be at 7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 13, at the White Hall Municipal Building.

Email Emily Gallagher at egallagher@timeswv.com or follow her on Twitter @EGallagherTWV.