From EPD Chief Travis Bennett:
“This Halloween is going to be different from past ones in many ways, but we all still need to work together to keep the kids safe.
“Parents, make sure your trick-or-treaters are visible to drivers by not using dark-colored costumes at night or at least adding reflective tape. Check costume masks to see if they restrict your child’s field of vision.
“Drivers, if you’re out and about on Halloween night, please slow down and keep your eyes open. Children might be running across streets in the middle of the block and might not be paying attention to traffic because they’re so excited.
“Council has asked that everyone take steps to keep things as safe as possible during the pandemic. The most important things would be not attending indoor parties with people from multiple households, trying to keep good distance while walking from house to house, and using self-serve candy bowls or other similar ideas to reduce the need for close interactions.
“If we all work together, we can have a safe holiday. I wish a Happy Halloween to the kids and I hope everyone has a great night!”
Training Will Focus on Solo Officer Emergency Response
Elkins, W. Va., October 16, 2020: Over the next several months, the Elkins Police Department will host a series of five Solo Officer Emergency Response training sessions for officers from area law enforcement agencies. The series of two-day training sessions, which presents the latest best practices for officers responding to active shooter and similar violent incidents, will be delivered by Omega Tactical Concepts, a West Virginia-based firm specializing in scenario-based training for individuals, private companies, and law enforcement.
The term “active shooter” describes incidents in which one or more perpetrators are actively engaged in killing or attempting to kill other people. The tactics for responding to these attacks have evolved over the years.
“The original tactic for these situations was that responding officers would establish a perimeter and wait for SWAT,” says EPD Chief Travis Bennett. “The problem with that approach is that it takes time to deploy a tactical team. An active shooter is trying to kill as many people as possible, and the thinking now is that even waiting a few minutes for a second or third patrol officer, much less waiting for SWAT, is probably going to increase fatalities.”
Because experience has shown that these incidents often end upon first contact between the shooter and law enforcement, it is now widely accepted that the best tactic is for the first officer on the scene to enter and move toward the sound of shooting as quickly as possible.
“Active shooters are not courageous individuals,” says Bennett. “They’re launching a surprise attack against people they think are defenseless, and they usually either give up or kill themselves as soon as they encounter trained responders. The thinking behind Solo Officer Emergency Response is to push the incident as fast as possible to the point where the shooter knows he doesn’t have much longer and the attack comes to an end—one way or another.”
However, solo response in such situations involves considerable risks for law enforcement officers. For example, there is an increased risk of “blue on blue” accidents, in which one officer mistakenly shoots another.
“One danger with this approach is that you’re going to have officers from multiple agencies and jurisdictions arriving, one by one,” says Bennett. “As they make entry and move toward the sound of gunfire, they may be hearing a fellow officer rather than the shooter. There may be crowds of frightened civilians, smoke, power outages—it’s going to be a confusing situation, to say the least.”
That’s why EPD has invited participation by the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, and other area law enforcement agencies.
“We want to really blanket the area with this training so that, no matter who the first responding officers are, they’ve all been trained the same way and are operating under the same protocols,” says Bennett. “Communication is going to be key. The second, third, and fourth officer arriving on scene really need to know where that first officer is and what they’re seeing.”
Bennett explains why he selected Omega to deliver this training.
“Omega is one of the leading companies offering this specific training, and I also have a lot of direct experience working with the lead instructor,” says Bennett, who also serves as the commander of the EPD Tactical Response Unit. “We’ve worked together a good bit over the years.”
A great deal of preparation went into this training, which will use both range time and simulated scenarios to deliver instruction on tactical firearms, small unit tactics, room and building management, emergency medical techniques, and managing law enforcement and EMS response.
“We’ve been planning this for about a year and a half,” says Bennett. “A few weeks before the first training session, Omega sent a team up here for a day to take a look at the facility we’ll be using for the scenarios and to talk to us about what we want to get out of this training.”
Bennett says this training exemplifies his philosophy where professional development for his officers is concerned.
“The state requires a certain amount of continuing education for officers each year, and everyone’s been in the situation where time is running out so you just squeeze something in,” says Bennett. “I’m not a fan of putting my people through training just to satisfy requirements. We all want good quality training that benefits us directly, so we’re really looking forward to this. Obviously, we hope we never need this training, but it’s a good feeling knowing we’ll be ready if we do.”
From EPD Chief Bennett:
EPD has received several reports of vehicles passing stopped school busses. I want to remind motorists that passing a school bus that is displaying its flashing warning signal is illegal and punishable by a minimum fine of $500 and/or up to 6 months in jail—even for a first offense.
I urge motorists to pay attention to their surroundings and keep their eyes open for school buses and children along the roadways on their way to and from school. If you approach a school bus with its warning signals flashing, regardless of the direction you are traveling, state code requires you to stop until the lights go off and the bus resumes motion. I would also ask that motorists pay attention to their speed in school zones.
The safety of children is of paramount importance to the Elkins Police Department. To protect children traveling to and from school, our officers will be conducting targeted enforcement of these violations. Here is a link to the relevant state code section if you would like to review the law yourself.
Thank you for helping us keep Elkins safe!
Chief T.C. Bennett
Enforcement was scaled back due to stay-at-home/safer-at-home orders
Elkins, W. Va., July 13, 2020: Enforcement of city parking laws will return to normal on Monday, July 20, Elkins officials have announced. After the governor’s declaration of a statewide state of emergency in March, city officials deemphasized and even suspended issuing citations for street sweeper parking restrictions and certain other parking rules in Elkins. With many businesses having reopened, officials say there is a need to return to normal enforcement of street sweeper parking restrictions and all other parking laws in the city. (more…)
Elkins, W. Va., June 29, 2020: As Independence Day draws closer, Elkins Mayor Van Broughton and city public safety officials are reminding area residents about important precautions and legal restrictions to keep in mind when using fireworks. (more…)
The flag in front of Elkins City Hall is being flown at half mast today in honor of National Peace Officers Memorial Day.
In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.
According to the National Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, “since the first known line-of-duty death in 1786, more than 21,000 U.S. law enforcement officers have made the ultimate sacrifice.” So far in 2020, the organization reports that more than 40 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty nationwide.
Please join us in expressing our appreciation for the law enforcement officers of the Elkins Police Department, the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, the West Virginia State Police, and the multiple federal agencies who work so hard and make so many sacrifices for the protection of our community.
Chief Finds No Disciplinary Actions Warranted
Elkins W. Va., April 20, 2020: The Elkins Police Department (EPD) has completed its internal review of officers’ use of force during the arrest of Jerry Lee Isner II for the shooting of EPD Senior Patrolman Daniel T. Sayre last month. (more…)
Elkins W. Va., March 27, 2020:
Elkins Police Chief Travis Bennett has released a statement about last night’s shooting of Elkins Police Department (EPD) Senior Patrolman Daniel Sayre. Officer Sayre is in good condition at Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown.
Statement from Chief Bennett:
Last night at around 7:30 p.m., Elkins Police Department (EPD) officers responded to a call of a male subject walking around with a rifle. The location was the alley connecting First and Second streets, behind the Jennings Randolph Federal Building.
Upon contacting the subject, later identified as Jerry Lee Isner II, EPD officers ordered him to stop and put the rifle on the ground. When Isner did not comply with these commands, officers deployed a taser in an attempt to control him. Isner subsequently opened fire, striking Senior Patrolman Daniel Sayre twice. Officers were unable to return fire due to the proximity of bystanders. No law enforcement officers discharged firearms during this incident.
Officers from multiple agencies provided medical attention to Senior Patrolman Sayre on scene until the arrival of Randolph County EMS. Senior Patrolman Sayre is at Ruby Memorial Hospital recovering from his injuries.
I would like to thank the following agencies for their assistance with this incident: West Virginia State Police, Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, U.S. ATF, Randolph County EMS, Elkins Fire Department, and HealthNet AeroMedical Services.
I would also like to thank the citizens of Elkins for the outpouring of support for Senior Patrolman Sayre and the Elkins Police Department.
- Chief T.C. Bennett
Elkins W. Va., March 26, 2020: An Elkins police officer received non-life-threatening injuries while effecting an arrest tonight around 7:30 p.m. Senior Patrolman Daniel Sayre, age 25 and an Elkins Police Department officer since 2015, was shot and is being transported by helicopter to Morgantown. A suspect is in custody.
Contact: Sutton Stokes
City of Elkins External Affairs
Phone: 304-636-1414, ext. 1212
Statement from EPD Chief T.C. Bennett
Date: February 21, 2020
On February 20, 2020, at approximately 6:24 pm, officers of the Elkins Police Department responded to a house located at 11 Dent Street in Elkins in reference to a shooting.
The location of the incident was in close proximity to the Davis Medical Center, which prompted a lockdown of that facility. Upon arrival, officers secured the scene and learned that one male subject had suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. The victim was treated at Davis Medical Center and subsequently transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital for further treatment. Officers obtained a search warrant for the crime scene in order to collect evidence pertaining to the incident.
Investigators have been conducting interviews of witnesses and are currently attempting to locate others believed to have knowledge of the incident. A vehicle believed to be involved with this incident was recovered by the West Virginia State Police in Pocahontas County. This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Elkins Police Department at (304) 636-0678 or by dialing 911.
I would like to thank the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department, and the Elkins, Marlinton, and Morgantown detachments of the West Virginia State Police for their assistance with this investigation.
Chief of Police