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Letters to the editor 8/30

August 30, 2002

Sheriff has plenty of extra manpower for seatbelt stings



To the editor:


If you are not available to meet a deputy, don't bother to install a home or business intrusion or panic alarm - they won't come and you could end up with a $500 fine and a 90-day jail term for bothering them. That is the policy of the Washington County Sheriff's Department.

Based on info provided by the sheriff's office and developed from the new Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, there have been a total of 6,296 business and home alarm permits issued by the sheriff in Washington County between 1999 and 2001. (The total systems in operation were not provided.) In 2000, the sheriff decided that too many resource hours were being used in responding to false alarms and issued an eight page document detailing the Sheriff's Office Alarm Policy.

The policy basically states that the "Sheriff's office will only respond to alarm activations when a representative from the business (or residence) who has keys to the facilities and alarm code access, responds to the alarm."

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Failure of the business or homeowner to comply can result in fines and imprisonment. The CAD system report for 2001 also shows that 261.57 hours in resources were used to respond to 2,969 alarms. Doing the math, it works out to 5.286 minutes of response time per alarm call. That's probably how long it takes the on-duty phone person to take and log the call. No info was provided on how many "on-scene responses" were made.

Questions on this policy resulted in a letter from the sheriff's patrol commander suggesting that I could possibly solve my "dilemma" by contracting with an alarm vendor who would respond with the police. That would be fine if I could deduct the cost from my tax dollar support for the sheriff's office!

The sheriff's office seems to have the resources to develop new computer systems, pay for new offices, establish and train SWAT, Hostage Rescue and K-9 teams, plus conduct road block "stings" to check for bad breath and seat belts, but not to drive by and see if there is a moving van in your driveway when an alarm is called in and you are out of town.

Recent articles and questions to commissioner candidates, published in The Herald-Mail, have dealt with pay and numbers of deputies. It's a no-brainer that the deputies should be paid on an equal basis with peers in the rest of the state, but let's (County Commissioners) also look at priorities for the sheriff's office.

I for one don't want my tax dollars to fund an organization that tells me I'll go to jail if I bother them with something as trivial (to them) as a possible residential break-in.

R. Yuhas

Smithsburg




Change needed in Legislature



To the editor:


As a taxpayer, I am greatly disappointed in Gov. Bob Wise and the West Virginia legislative leaders who wasted more than $100,000 on a special session that was dominated by a proposal to raise the legal weight limit on coal trucks. They then adjourned after four days without passing the bill. Why?

The legislative leadership in Charleston has clearly lost its way. They can't get anything done. That is why we need fresh new leaders elected to the Legislature who will push for the issues that matter most - road building, lower tax rates, more jobs - not raising the weight limit on coal trucks to 120,000 pounds, for heaven's sake.

I urge the voters of Jefferson County to elect a man who brings with him leadership experience as a Naval officer and an emergency room physician. Dave Ebbitt is ready to address the important challenges of our area and demand that legislative leaders put the needs of the people first, ahead of the special-interest lobbyists.

It's time for change.

Willard Wynne

Gerrardstown

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