Sheriff KC Bohrer on Crime and Punishment in Morgan County

In 2016, when KC Bohrer was running for Sheriff in Morgan County, West Virginia, he promised to bring accountability and transparency to the office.

To that end, as Sheriff, he puts out a weekly report, documenting the work of his office – everything from car crashes with deer to overdoses and suicides.

Sheriff Bohrer says that on the overdose front, things are getting better. Even though his office responds to ten to twelve overdose calls a month, things aren’t as bad as they were in 2017, he says.

“In my first year in office we took an aggressive stance and arrested several major dealers in the county,” Sheriff Bohrer told Russell Mokhiber, host of This Week in Morgan County. “We put them out of business. We are not having the reports, we are not having the issues we had in 2017. There has been a reduction.”

Sheriff Bohrer says that in part because of the public attention to the opioid addiction problem, there are resources now available that weren’t available a couple of years ago.

Earlier this month, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice appointed Sheriff Bohrer to serve as the law enforcement representative on the Governor’s Council on Substance Abuse and Prevention.

Bohrer agrees that generally speaking, Morgan County is a peaceful, law abiding community.

Before coming to Morgan County, Bohrer worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years in Berkeley County.

Coming back to Morgan County, did anything surprise him?

“Not at all,” Bohrer says. “I’m from Morgan County. Born and raised here.”

“My worst day in Morgan County is not nearly as bad as any day I ever had in Berkeley County,” Bohrer says. “The sheer volume of criminality and population and traffic over there is just overwhelming. When I started in Berkeley County in 1979, the population was only 45,000. We had 16 officers when I started. When I left, we had 58 officers and a population of over 100,000.”

We reviewed with Sheriff Borher some of the highlights from his weekly report.

There have been many reports in recent weeks of car collisions with deer.

Bohrer says “we have a lot of deer strikes.”

“We are a rural county. We have a large deer population – probably a larger deer population than people.  We have several deer crashes a year involving motor vehicles. Typically, they begin in September or October, because of the breeding season where they become more inclined to run into the highway and it generally lasts until about this time of year. We might have anywhere from five to ten deer crashes a week.”

There was a report recently of a “suspicious person at Sheetz.” What is a suspicious person?

“That’s sometimes in the mind of the beholder,” Bohrer said. “I’ve had people call in a suspicious person because they see somebody standing and maybe they don’t really like the look of them. Maybe they are disheveled. Maybe they are mentally ill. Maybe there are intoxicated. Maybe they are on the verge of an overdose. Maybe they are just in an area where people don’t typically see someone. That can be the gamut of the callers.”

What percentage of suspicious person calls end up in some kind of arrest?

“Probably less than ten percent,” Bohrer said. “Sometimes it’s retaliatory – they are calling to retaliate against someone they don’t like or they have had a problem with. So they denote them to be suspicious and law enforcement comes and checks them out.”

Recently there was a report of a suicide on Pious Ridge Road. How often do you get reports of suicides?

“I would estimate we probably have a dozen a year,” Bohrer said. “A lot of times they are mental health issues or emotional issues.”

Is crime a function of economics?

“Yes,” Bohrer says. “If people don’t have a good economic status and they have to survive, it fuels crime. You see the pawn shops flourishing. You see the burglaries and larcenies rise when you have economic issues in your community.”



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