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Sheriff's department receives money for two new deputies

April 22, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.Va. - The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, which has been struggling to find time to investigate crimes because of a heavy workload, has received funding for two additional deputies.

Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober asked for $781,902 from the Jefferson County Commission. The request would have covered funding for four more deputies.

The commission agreed to give the sheriff's department $682,925, which includes funding for two more deputies.

The commission included the funding for the two additional deputies as part of its recently approved 2003-04 budget, which totaled about $12.3 million, Commission President Jane Tabb said.

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Boober said the two additional deputies, which he can hire July 1, will help the department deal with its workload.

"I'm thankful for anything and everything. I never expected to get all I asked for," Boober said Monday.

In addition to approving funding for two more deputies, the Jefferson County Commission also approved funding to purchase two more cruisers for the sheriff's department. Boober requested funding for three cruisers.

The commission turned down a funding request to pay for two all-terrain vehicles for the sheriff's department, which would have been used for drug interdiction and work in remote areas, Boober said.

In Berkeley County, Sheriff Randy Smith said he did not ask for funding for more deputies. Smith has said that the Berkeley County Commission told him there are no funds available for more deputies.

Smith said Monday he will concentrate on trying to get more help through COPS grants, which are federal funds set aside to help police departments hire more officers.

The Berkeley County Commission is expected to discuss possible COPS grant funding on Thursday, Smith said.

In cases such as theft, vandalism or even a more serious offense such as burglary, police in Berkeley and Jefferson counties say they cannot help crime victims many times because of officer shortages or because they are too busy with other duties, such as providing court security.

To illustrate the challenge facing the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department, Smith compares Berkeley County to Frederick County, Va., which has the same population. Frederick County has 89 deputies, while Berkeley County has 37, Smith said.

There were 24 state troopers in Berkeley County in 1999 but now there are 14, said John Droppleman, a Berkeley County trooper and member of the board of directors for the West Virginia Troopers Association.

Because of the trooper shortage, state police in Berkeley County had to cut staffing for the midnight shift on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, state police said.

In an attempt to shore up trooper reserves, two trooper training classes were held in Charleston, W.Va., earlier in the year and Gov. Bob Wise called for a third class to be offered, said West Virginia Secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety Joe Martin.

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