Ben Placer, Sisterville's newly hired Chief of Police, is settling into his new job and reconnecting with old friends, having recently re-located to his hometown.
Placer, who has spent the last thirteen years living and working in Virginia, says "I'm happy to be back home, and I hope to make a difference" in the community he grew up in.
"I wasn't even looking to change jobs," says Placer, "but my wife and I had wanted to move back (to Sistersville) for several years."
While on a visit with family, "My sister-in-law told me about the position," he said, adding, "I applied, went through the interview process, and here I am."
Placer, a Sistersville High School grad, enlisted in the US Navy following graduation and was honorably discharged in 1994. He enrolled at WVU-P, and was two classes short of graduation when he was hired by the Town of Amherst, VA, as a patrolman with their police department, in 1998. In 2005, Placer was promoted to Investigator for Amherst County, after graduating from the Virginia Forensic Science Academy in Richmond. "I'm proud of that achievement," says Placer.
Placer worked as an Investigator for Amherst County until January, 2010, then went to work as the only investigator for Nelson County, VA.
"I hope, since people here in the community know me, I'll be someone they feel comfortable with."
Sistersville Chief of Police
Nelson County, located in central Virginia, is roughly 500 square miles, and as a rural county, Placer said he dealt with everything from "murder-suicides to robberies, and everything in between."
"We have a lot of the same issues, the same crimes," Placer said, "but things are different as far as the atmosphere here. It's more relaxed. My kids can go to the park and play without me worrying so much about what's out there on the streets."
Placer and his wife, Amanda are the parents of three children: Branden, 18, Alyson, 16, and Zackary, 9. Branden remained in Virginia when the family relocated this summer, as he is attending Lynchburg College there this fall.
Alyson will enter her junior year at Tyler Consolidated High School, and Zackary will be in fourth grade at Sistersville Elementary this coming year. Both Alyson and Zackary seem to be adjusting well to their new surroundings, according to their father.
"My son just loved it from the beginning," Placer commented. "I was a little more worried about my daughter's reaction, being that she's older and was leaving her school friends (in Virginia ) behind. But she has been very welcomed by the kids in the community."
"Alyson used her 'social media' skills," adds her father. "She went on Facebook and met other kids here. She's also been working at the (Sistersville) pool this summer, and made new friends there."
Placer's wife is the City Park pool manager this summer. "She worked full time when we lived in Virginia," said Placer, adding she had been employed in customer service positions and as a store manager for Wendy's in VA.
"She's enjoying her job at the park," said Placer.
Another bonus of moving back to Sistersville, says Placer, is being close to family. Placer's parents, Steve Placer and Nora Placer, live in Hanford City. His brother, Corey, lives in Sistersville.
"For thirteen years we lived in Virginia, with no family around. It's nice to be home, close to the family again," he commented. "My folks get to see their grandkids more than a few times a year."
Presently, Placer is working on the implementation of a new computer program, called Incident-Based Reporting, which he installed and is compiling data for.
"The program was purchased through grant funding acquired by the former chief," Placer said. "It's a big improvement in record-keepng. The data will be sent from our office to the West Virginia State Police database once a month."
"One thing I plan to do is actively seek grant funding for the department," added Placer. "For example, there is federal money available now for new vehicles. I want to pursue that, and other grants that will fund improvements to our equipment."
"I hope," says Placer, "since people here in the community know me, I'll be someone they feel comfortable with. I want to be approachable, and to use my past experience in law enforcement to benefit Sistersville."
The Sistersville Police Department is currently in the process of employing another patrolman, Placer said."I want to work closely with the patrolmen," he added, "so that we can perform effectively and learn from each other's experiences in law enforcement."
"It's great to be back in Sistersville," Placer concluded. "Everyone has made us feel welcome."