Parkersburg community rallies behind law enforcement

"Back the Blue" rally held in downtown Parkersburg
Back the Blue March and Rally
Published: Jul. 19, 2020 at 11:42 AM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - Community members marched down Market Street in Parkersburg on Saturday in support of those who protect and serve.

One of the organizer’s of this event is Parkersburg City Councilman, Bob Mercer, who works as a 911 dispatcher for Wood County. He wanted to show the men and women in blue that the community backs them “100 percent.”

I’ve always said as a member of council, we have the finest law enforcement officers right here in the country right here in this area bar none. We just want them to know, we appreciate who they are, what they do for us every day. They don’t have to be out here every day doing this, but this is what they do and who they are. And we appreciate them.

Bob Mercer

It’s a time in which there is a great deal of opposition to the police with cries of defunding the police are echoed across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. Mercer is staunchly against this notion after seeing what police officers go through every day.

We’re going to continue to do our job. And that’s what people need to understand is we don’t go looking for trouble and causing anything. We look to help people anyway we can.

Steven Stephens, Wood County Sheriff

The officers of this community have continued to address the concerns of the public over what has happened in recent months that they’ve seen on social media. The term for bad apples in their line of work is something that they’ve heard numerous times. Officers like Parkersburg Police Chief Joseph Martin points to how the state of West Virginia and Wood County have procedures and statutes to address these concerns and what to do if an officer does take matters into their own hands.

We are lightyears ahead of most police departments in our country. It’s really hard to believe for the most part, but we’re very fortunate that. We do have those policies in place that gives us those tools and mechanisms to eliminate officers, for example, if we had an officer that mimicked what happened in Minneapolis. We would have policies and procedures in place to eliminate that officer. But do it lawfully and within the statutes of West Virginia state law.

Joseph Martin, Parkersburg Police Chief

And despite much of what the officers of Wood County have experienced as far as public backlash, all of these officers are humbled to have the support of their community behind them.

“It means everything to us,” says Vienna Police Chief Mike Pifer. “This is why we do the job. It’s just fantastic the amount of people who have come out in this weather support us today. The feeling is fantastic.”

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