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Sheriff Crum tried to clean up his county

When Mingo County Delegate Harry Keith White learned of the cold-blooded murder of his friend, Mingo County Sheriff Eugene Crum, he said, "It's just a sad, sad day for Mingo County and the state of West Virginia."

It is indeed, and in more ways than one.

Crum was a husband, father and grandfather.  He had loads of friends from his many years working first as the police chief of Delbarton, then as a magistrate for 12 years, and most recently as Mingo County's sheriff.

But beyond the personal tragedy, this is also an affront to not just the residents of Mingo County, but to all West Virginians who care about law and order and a civil society.

Crum was shot to death from point-blank range in broad daylight as he sat in his car just a block from the Mingo County Courthouse, a spot where he often ate lunch.  

That's an execution, a planned attack by someone whose sole purpose was murder.

Fortunately, police quickly rounded up the shooter.  

In the coming days we'll learn more about the suspect, Tennis Melvin Maynard, 37, who was wounded by police during his arrest.

We know that Sheriff Crum had been trying to clean up the extensive illegal drug trade in his county.  

He campaigned on it last year, and made good on his word.

Mingo County Prosecutor Michael Sparks said earlier this year that Crum had "exceeded my highest expectations" and "provided a game-changing boost to our drug enforcement."

Delegate White said of Crum's work: "Drugs are a terrible plague and a scourge facing much of Southern West Virginia, but at least here in Mingo County, Eugene was working very hard to eradicate this problem prior to becoming sheriff (and) had stayed aggressive in his pursuit of stopping pill mills around the county."

The attack on Sheriff Crum comes less than a week after Texas District Attorney Mike McLelland and his wife, Cynthia, were shot to death in their home.  

And two weeks ago, the head of Colorado's prison system, Tom Clements, was gunned down in his home.

The men and women in law enforcement in this country put themselves at risk so the rest of us don't have to.  

Assaults on them are de facto attacks on all who value safety and security.

The murders in Colorado and Texas, and now in our home state with Sheriff Crum, are shocking and barbarous.  They are something more akin to a third-world country than a civilized state.

As Delegate White said, it is certainly a sad day, but it's also a day to be outraged.

Kercheval is host of TalkLine, broadcast by the MetroNews Statewide Radio Network from 10 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday. The show can be heard locally on WCHS 580 AM.



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