Morgantown Police Chief explains encampment clean up process

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – A recent clean up of transient encampments has put the Morgantown Police Department in the crosshairs of some in the community.

In recent weeks police and city workers have collected and disposed of trash from locations under bridges and along the rail trails. In some cases, personal property was secured and taken to the police station.

Police chief Ed Preston says the cleanup operations are just that, clean up operations.

“There’s a little bit of a false narrative that we throw things away, we take things from people, we summarily evict them and take things from them and that’s simply not correct,”said Preston.

Preston says the clean up operations are an ongoing issue for the department and city workers.

“We are constantly having to clean, with our Public Works Department, areas that are essentially trash dumps where people have camped or decided they were just going to temporarily stay at a location,” Preston said,”Garbage piles up, needles, alcohol containers a myriad of things.”

Preston says many efforts are made to connect people living in the camps to local church groups and non-profit groups that can offer care, food and shelter.

During the clean up effort personal property is located and secured.

“Personal effects and backpacks of that nature have been put into trash bags because of bugs, smells and odors,”Preston said,”They may have personal effects in them like dirty clothes, it’s a sanitary method for us to handle them.”