The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

August 23, 2012

Mayor Pugh: Decision to bring in outside agency is up to Police Chief

By Wendy Holdren
Register-Herald Reporter

— After Beckley Police announced Wednesday that an internal investigation of the department’s evidence holding room is ongoing, several council members spoke out about their concerns with several calling for an outside agency to investigate.

Mayor Emmett Pugh, however, said he believes these comments are a bit premature.

“My take on it is that there is an ongoing investigation and a process that is being undertaken,” Pugh said. “Comments right now that are pro, con or neutral to me don’t really carry much weight because I think you need to get to the end of the process and then at the appropriate time, I think it’s fine to make a comment.”

Pugh said he has only spoken with council members Tom Sopher and Ann Worley as of 10:30 a.m. Thursday, but other council members including Chris Hall, Cedric Robertson, Tim Berry and Ron Booker have voiced their concerns to The Register-Herald that the investigation should be handled by an outside agency.

As for whether or not Pugh believes the investigation should be turned over, he said, “I’m going to leave that up to Chief (Tim) Deems.”

He said during a conversation with Deems Wednesday, they discussed bringing an outside agency in to help with the inventory of the evidence room.

“I know he’s looking at that and has talked to a couple different agencies in regard to that, but as of right now, I don’t know that he’s come up with anything—but I know that he is leaning in that direction.”

He added, “I think initially we’ve done everything we should have done to bring this issue to light to start the investigation to get it going. I certainly have no problem if Chief Deems feels like we should turn it over or have someone work in conjunction with us on the investigation, I have no problem with that at all.”

— E-mail: wholdren@register-herald.com