New Paw Paw police chief
Corporal Craig Pearrell is the new acting chief of police for the Town of Paw Paw. Pearrell began his duties as chief on November 7.
Pearrell, 36, is also a police officer and K-9 unit handler for Town of Bath. He will continue his position with the Berkeley Springs Police Department while working as police chief in Paw Paw.
Pearrell has been a police officer for Bath since May, 2003. He graduated from the West Virginia Police Academy in December, 2004. He has K-9 handler duties only in the Town of Bath.
Pearrell's objective is to build a police department in Paw Paw that is in compliance with state laws and standards. Certain administrative paperwork has to be completed, state rules must be followed and professionalism is needed, he said.
Paw Paw has two other part-time police officers that also provide coverage. Pearrell feels he has a superb foundation for building the department.
Making a difference
Police are public servants of the community and it's not an easy job, Pearrell said. Often a police officer takes on other roles, such as a psychologist and a counselor.
"I love what I do. I think I make a difference," Pearrell said.
He said Paw Paw's mayor and town council are supportive of his ideas. Bath Police Chief Jim Minton is also fine with his new position.
They want a police department. They need it. They are receptive to change," Pearrell said of Paw Paw.
Listening is important
Typical police calls in Paw Paw include loitering, thefts and illegal dumping, Pearrell said.
He plans to tackle police issues by first listening to people and then addressing problems head-on if they are serious.
"Most of your job is listening to people. It may be a simple complaint, but in their mind it's the biggest issue ever," he said.
Pearrell thinks Paw Paw is a great community. "It's growing, but it's still small," he said.
Paw Paw is like Berkeley Springs was 10 years ago and it's going to take time to get the operation up and running, Pearrell said.
He felt he had great training from former Bath Chief Tony Lynch on how to build a police department.
The biggest thing for Pearrell is serving and protecting the community so people have the opportunity to live in a safe place.
"It's about helping people," he said.
As police chief, he wants to assess "what problems we have and where we are going." He promised to help Paw Paw to the best of his ability.
"I'm an easy person to get along with, but I have a zero tolerance for stupidity," Pearrell said.
He told of a law enforcement officer saying that "You can't stop crime, drugs or killings. You just hope it doesn't change you."
Pearrell only wants people to say of him at the end of his career: "He did his job."
Mayor Ken Crites and Paw Paw council members were impressed with Pearrell's resume and interview, said Town Recorder Julie Kidwell.
The town's part-time officers have had a good working relationship with Pearrell and recommended him, Kidwell said.