WESTOVER, W.Va. – Residents gathered at the Westover City Council chambers Monday night to share their frustration about the recent events involving the Westover Police Department.
At the start of the council meeting, Westover Mayor, Dave Johnson, gave a statement regarding an incident that happened with two Westover Police officers and a resident last New Years Day. He explained that he would not comment on the situation, nor on the lawsuit while it is under investigation.
At the meeting, First Ward City Council member, Ralph Mullins, proposed an ordinance to require Westover Police Department to activate and/or deactivate their body cameras under new guidelines, which led to a heated debate.
Police Chief Richard Panico explained that he wanted his officers to use the body cams with reasoning, rather than being forced. Those in attendance listened to city council members discuss this ordinance with the chief and in the mist of the heated discussion, a Westover lawyer stepped into get the council back on topic.
“They don’t know what they’re going to run into and as far as them having, making them evidence it’s not necessarily evidence unless you go to court,” explained Westover resident Alli Jackson. “So, because you have a body cam, don’t mean it’s evidence.”
The council rejected the proposed ordinance of regulating body cams. Some residents stated they felt the body cams should be on at anytime an officer responds to an incident.
“Not only we would be protecting the citizens, but most of all we would be protecting those on the front line. The officers who we have been taught, is there to protect and serve,” Delegate Danielle Walker stated.
Residents in attendance are planning to continue to attend the city council meetings until things change in the Westover Police Department.
Watch below for discussion on ordinance:
Statement on federal lawsuit read by Mayor Dave Johnson: