Sheriff's calls up sharply

February 11, 2002

Sheriff's calls up sharply

By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police officers at the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department responded to about 5,000 more calls in 2001 compared to the previous year, Sheriff Randy Smith told the Berkeley County Commissioners last week.

Deputies responded to 15,667 calls in 2001 compared to the roughly 10,000 calls that were logged in 2000, Smith said.

Smith said one reason calls are up is because of his new policy that deputies are required to respond to every call that is received by the sheriff's department.

In the past, deputies may not have always responded to a call, Smith said. Sometimes, if the situation could be resolved through a magistrate or some other avenue, the deputy would pass along that information through the telephone to the person making the complaint rather than responding to the location of the call, Smith said.

Now officers respond to the location before making such a determination, Smith said.


"And that's what the public wants," Smith said.

The number of calls was included in a lengthy annual report Smith developed for the sheriff's department. Smith said he could not compare many of the figures to previous years because past information was not available.

Smith said there were 571 criminal investigations last year. Of that number, 339 were cleared, resulting in 59 felony arrests.

Regarding complaints about deputies or their behavior, Smith said four people came to his office to talk about the issue. None of the people would put anything in writing, said Smith.

"I think it speaks a lot for our department," said Smith.

Last June, a Berkeley County Circuit Court judge dismissed charges against three deputies who were accused of beating a Hedgesville, W.Va., man.

On Jan. 17, 2000, Todd Rankin suffered a collapsed lung and a broken rib and was hospitalized for about 10 days.

Laura Rose, Rankin's attorney, contended that deputies inflicted the injuries after they stopped Paul Rankin Jr.'s truck as he drove his brother home.

Two court-appointed investigators concluded, however, that Rankin was probably hurt during a fight earlier that day.

Circuit Court Judge Christopher Wilkes granted a special prosecutor's request and dismissed five counts each against Sgt. John Vanorsdale Jr., Cpl. Ron Gardner and Deputy Christopher McCulley.

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