We are now in Day 13 of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri. But is Southern West Virginia prepared if riots and chaos were to ignite here?
Beckley Police Deputy Chief J. C. McPeake told us their agency is committed to having officers as diverse as the community in which they serve. McPeake said in a hostile situation, they're trained to use nonviolentt methods before any other force.
"We all carry pepper spray and tasers, most of the time just the threat of those will de-escalate the situation," McPeake said.
Their first response is to call for backup.
"If there is somebody threatening violence and they see two police officers, they make rethink that. Luckily we live in a small enough cities to where backup can arrive very quickly," he told us.
To hold both citizens and law enforcement accountable, ten Beckley Police officers wear body cameras, and all marked police cruisers come equipped with video and audio recorders.
Beyond accountability, the Deputy Chief said gaining the public's trust and being involved in the community, is the best way to combat violence.
"I want the community safe and I want the people on the street to trust me, not to fear me. Parents will point to the police and tell their kids, he'll put you in jail, instead of saying hey he's the guy to run to if you need help," said McPeake.
Council member Ann Worley couldn't agree more.
"So what if there is a predominantly white police force in Ferguson? There is no excuse in the 21st century that they should not be out there within their community, making those connections and making contact with their people. We do it here in Beckley," Worley said.
On Thursday, the Governor of Missouri ordered the national guard to leave Ferguson.
He says they've effectively protected the city while other agencies worked to restore trust with residents.