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Rainelle police chief says warrant delays endanger public

RAINELLE, W.Va. -- Rainelle Police Chief J.P. Stevens says the public is being put at risk by a magistrate's reluctance to issue warrants.

Stevens said Greenbrier County Magistrate Brenda J. Smith demands more information from officers than what's required to issue warrants. That can delay obtaining a warrant for hours and leave Rainelle unprotected. The only county magistrate office is in Lewisburg, about a 40-minute drive from Rainelle.

Media outlets report that Stevens' comments came Wednesday during a news conference at Rainelle Town Hall.

Smith declined to comment.

Stevens said that he tried to get a warrant Tuesday for a man who sent 125 threatening text messages and multiple voice messages to his ex-girlfriend. He said that Smith didn't issue the warrant until Wednesday morning, putting the woman's life in jeopardy.

The man was arrested Wednesday evening.

"[Smith] ran for that job; she needs to put the time in," he said. "Law enforcement in this county is tired of it."

"This is the same thing we go through with her all the time, but this time, she endangered [the victim's] life. Enough is enough. It's got to stop."

Beverly McClure, who said she was the woman who received the threatening messages, told media outlets that she feared for her life.

"He could have got over here," she said. "He could have shot me, slit my throat, or anything. And then tomorrow, she would have said, 'I wish I could have done that.' Tomorrow would have been too late."


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