Chance for better future would help in fight against drug crime - WBOY.com: Clarksburg, Morgantown: News, Sports, Weather

Chance for better future would help in fight against drug crime

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    Friday, July 25 2014 6:00 AM EDT2014-07-25 10:00:24 GMT
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  • Looking the other way perpetuates criminal politics

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    Friday, July 11 2014 10:46 AM EDT2014-07-11 14:46:55 GMT
    Former Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks has been sentenced to 12 months in prison for his role in a political scheme that has dominated headlines for nearly a year and shined a bright light on one part of the state’s tangled web of public corruption.
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Sidney Muller, a Marine Corps veteran from Harrison County, is charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting deaths of four men, including newspaper delivery men Freddy Swiger and his son Fred Swiger. 

Police say Muller went to a home on Locust Avenue in Clarksburg last week to settle a $10,000 drug debt. When the deal went south, authorities say he shot two men inside the residence. He went outside, encountered the Swigers and, police say, opened fire. Tragically, the Swigers were just delivering the Friday edition of the local paper when they were gunned down.

Muller is in custody, but an entire community is reeling from another episode of violence linked to drugs and drug trafficking. 

Parts of Clarksburg are wonderful, but, like all cities and towns, some neighborhoods are becoming increasingly dangerous.  Harrison County Prosecutor Joe Shaffer is not sugar-coating the situation. He described Locust Avenue as "a street that you don't want to walk down in the daytime, much less after dark." That's a troubling statement and one that deserves our full attention.  

How did it get so bad? Better yet, how do we fix it? How do we solve this problem that, if left unattended, will only fester and grow worse?  

There is no magic bullet, and a criminal element can never be totally eradicated from any society, but when decent people only doing their job get caught in the crossfire, we need to stand up and say enough is enough. Locust Avenue, and all of West Virginia, deserve better than execution-style murders and a house identified as a "known drug location." Go to any city — Beckley, Charleston, Huntington, Wheeling, Bluefield, Martinsburg - and you can find the same street with the same problems and the same thugs.

We believe, as do many social scientists and medical experts, that problems like this are exacerbated by hopelessness and few prospects. Law enforcement and rehabilitation programs are a vital part of the process, but they treat the symptoms and do very little to truly find a cure. The most effective way to combat this scourge is to show those who might turn to drugs, and the unavoidable pain and heartbreak that always follows in their wake, that they have options. That not only are a a job and a paycheck within their grasps, but a true chance at a better life is there and worth pursuing.

The Swiger family, and all those affected by drug violence, have suffered enough. We can either work hard to unleash prosperity in our state or we kept attending funerals of lives cut short and continue to watch as our communities continue to disintegrate.