Craigo / Allen
Cpl. A. J. "Tony" Craigo (left) is introduced by President Dave Allen.

Creed / Long

Rotary guests today included (left) Zachary D. Crede (Crede Lawn Services, Scott Depot) and Brenden D. Long (Attorney at Law, Hurricane).

Cpl. Tony Craigo
Local domestic violence investigation practices shared nationwide

July 12, 2016

He was invited to take part in law enforcement leadership training against domestic violence with the International Association of Chiefs of Police. But when Putnam's Cpl. Tony Craigo arrived for the classes in Kansas City, he found he was the only officer attending from West Virginia.

"I was sitting beside police chiefs from Atlanta, and Oakland; and lieutenants and captains from LAPD and several federal offices," Craigo told local Rotarians today.

"Most law enforcement agencies have ten or less members in them," he said. "And others are impressed with the practices and procedures in place in Putnam County."

And that's how Craigo became recognized as a contact resource for problems in rural areas dealing with cases of domestic violence.

A fifteen-year veteran of the Sheriff's Department, Craigo took over domestic violence investigations for Steve Deweese when Deweese ran for sheriff four years ago.

Since then Craigo has had 385 hours or more of classes, and he in turn has trained more than 2,500 people within the past year alone in his law enforcement specialty.

"Right now," he added, "I am the only officer who can instruct on strangulation." He worked with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence and with the Legislature on the felony strangulation bill that just passed.

He has participated in a national forum on use of body cameras in domestic violence investigations.

Putnam County is different from Atlanta, or LAPD, or Washington, D.C., he said. "When they make an arrest, they call for a paddy wagon. The suspect goes to jail and the investigator goes back and makes his report.

"Here, we carry the person arrested to the courthouse. We're with him, sometimes for hours.

"And for prosecutors and attorneys to watch through four to six hours of [body camera] recordings, it's an over-burden.

"And that brought about some really brisk discussions about body-worn cameras.

"Last month we had a film crew here from the International Association of Chiefs of Police. They were creating a training video, and they wanted to give a rural perspective.

"I tried to explain that we were more suburban than rural," he said. "But they were surprised that my cell phone and radio don't work everywhere.

"They were amazed that within ten minutes of the courthouse you could be traveling up a gravel road with a creek crossing -- and watching out for deer.

"We can be proud of Putnam County," he added. "Our policies and procedures make for a climate of respect for law enforcement."

Craigo is funded by a federal grant to combat violence against women. "I'm thrilled," he said, "that I can be a part of teaching best practices, so that maybe we can keep doing what we're doing -- and not be a national headline over something that was done wrong."

A Putnam native from Red House hill, Craigo is a Poca High graduate, Class of 1998.

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