MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Attorney General of West Virginia Patrick Morrisey said that open communication with law enforcement officers across the state is something that he values.
On Monday morning, he met with those officers to discuss how to make some major changes across the Eastern Panhandle.
"We still have to do everything imaginable to end the backlog with the state crime lab,” said Morrisey.
Last year, Morrisey transferred $1 million to State Police in order to help with the backlog of drug identification tests.
"There are people sitting in jail for six months or a year. We don't have the lab tests back in order to either continue to prosecute or to exonerate an individual,” said Morrisey.
He, county prosecutors and law enforcement officials across the board agreed that finding a way to reduce the drug test backlog is a priority.
"I know that we have settlement money that we recently brought in from some of the large pharmaceutical cases. Some of those dollars, I think, should be applied to fix this important problem,” said Morrisey.
In addition to the backlog, substance abuse was also another topic of conversation at the round table. Whether it’s heroin, prescription pills or cocaine, law enforcement officials in the Eastern Panhandle said the problem seems to be getting worse.
"We're always thinking about different ways that we can help stop the flow of illicit drugs into the panhandle, and a lot of it does come from Baltimore. That's a problem. We're always looking at new ways to stop that supply route,” said Morrisey.
Morrisey said that being rooted in the community is something that his office values, which is why holding round tables periodically will continue to build trust amongst county officials and the state.
"When there are problems that are arising, they know they have the ear of a state official that can actually help solve problems,” said Morrisey.
During the meeting, there were representatives from Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan Counties.
Morrisey wants to let the Eastern Panhandle know that he is always open to the community if they have questions or concerns.