Eric Daugherty was among the Paden City residents who appeared before the Paden City Council Monday evening to air grievances and express concerns.
"It was brought to my attention on June 1, the Paden City Police Department ran the license plate on my personal vehicle," stated Daugherty. "I have the printout where it was ran on May 30 at 9:50 a.m."
According to Daugherty, who is employed by the Wetzel County Sheriff's Office as a deputy, he was asleep at that time of the check and his truck was parked legally on private property. "I spoke with the dispatcher and I asked him why he ran my license," he continued. "He said 'because the mayor told me to.'"
Eric Daugherty appears before the Paden City Council Monday evening to formally air a grievance with Mayor Bill Fox.
Speaking directly to Mayor Bill Fox, Daugherty asked, "Why did you run my license plate?"
"There was a complaint," Fox answered.
"If there was a complaint, that's the police department's job," Daugherty countered.
"There was a complaint and I said, 'Okay, I will find out who owns the truck.' I had no idea who owned it," Fox said.
"I'd like to know what the complaint was," Daugherty said.
Fox said, "Well that's it. I just wanted to check on it."
Checks of this nature are often ran through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Crime Information Center or NCIC. This system is an electronic clearinghouse of crime data utilized by law enforcement. NCIC helps criminal justice professionals apprehend fugitives, locate missing persons, recover stolen property, and identify terrorists. It also assists law enforcement officers in performing their official duties more safely and provides them with information necessary to aid in protecting the general public. Access to NCIC records is limited almost exclusively to the criminal justice and law enforcement community. Daugherty aptly noted that a mayor does not have the authority to personally obtain information through NCIC.
"Oh I don't?" Fox defended. "What authority do I have?"
"You don't have any," Daugherty answered. "You don't have the authority for any weapons checks or NCIC checks."
"We run license checks pretty often," Fox remarked. "And it's not for weapons checks."
"You do or the police department does?" Daugherty asked.
"The police department does," Fox said. "And they work for the mayor."
Daugherty argued that the police department worked for the city and on behalf of the citizens of Paden City. Fox maintained that the mayor was in control of all city operations.
"Go back and look at the charter," Fox said. "They work for the mayor."
Daugherty commented, "The charter says you oversee the police department."
"The charter says the police work for the mayor," Fox maintained.
Daugherty has filed a complaint against Fox with the State of West Virginia. Additionally, he has filed a complaint with the Federal Bureau of Investigation for misuse of the NCIC system, as well as a civil law suit.
"That's fine," Mayor Fox commented. "File whatever you want."
"You have no business running people's license plates," Daugherty said.
Getting back to his original question, Daugherty once again asked about the complaint that allegedly prompted the mayor to investigate the vehicle in question.
"I don't know what the complaint was," Fox said.
"So you just took it upon yourself to run my license number?"
Fox answered, "Yes."
"It wouldn't be because of the political sign on the back on the truck, would it?"
"I wouldn't think so," Fox replied. "What personal (significance) would there be? I have nothing personal against you. I didn't even know who's truck it was."
Once again, Daugherty asked about the sign. "It wouldn't be because of the John Hopkins sign on the back of the truck would it?"
"You have the power to vote for whomever you want," Fox said. "I would hope this has nothing to do with an election."
"Then what was the complaint?" Daugherty asked again.
Ignoring Daugherty's question, Fox moved on to another citizen. Persistent in his quest for answers, Daugherty remained front and center. "That's my answer?"
"Yes, that's your answer."
Fox continued to talk around Daugherty.
"What was the complaint?" he asked persistently.
"I don't remember," Fox said. "I don't know what more you expect to get because you aren't going to get any more."
"If there's been a complaint filed, I'd like to see it," Daugherty said.
"There are license numbers run here when there are no complaints," Fox stated. "There are people who have questions about an individual or an automobile."
Directing his question to a dispatcher, Fox asked, "When a councilman comes in with a complaint or a question, have you run a license number?"
"I have done that," she answered. "And I have found out since that I can no longer do that. I can only do it for police officers."
"I've never been informed of that," Fox remarked.
Daugherty noted that information was included in the user agreement between the municipality and the state.
"I think we've covered about all we are going to cover," Fox said. "We are trying to conduct a meeting here."
Fox then ordered Paden City Police Chief Michael Owens to escort Daugherty from the council chamber.