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DeHaven leaves bench for shot at sheriff's job

December 17, 2003|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Carlton "Cootsie" DeHaven's desire to be the county's sheriff began before he was elected magistrate, before he worked as a bailiff, before he became a detective and before he worked as a sheriff's deputy in the 1970s.

As a boy, DeHaven said, he used to run around with a cap gun in one hand and a sheriff's badge on his chest.

"I guess it started a long time ago," DeHaven, 53, said.

DeHaven resigned as a magistrate, a position to which he was elected three years ago, to run for sheriff. He announced his plans Tuesday, a day after his last day on the bench.

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Although he could file pre-candidacy papers now, DeHaven, a Republican, said he will not file until the official filing period begins next month.

DeHaven, a lifelong Berkeley County resident, started working as a deputy with the Berkeley County Sheriff's Department in the early 1970s. He advanced to a shift supervisor position and became one of the department's first K-9 officers.

He moved to the Martinsburg Police Department in 1980, where he continued to work as a K-9 officer and rose to the rank of detective. Before running for a magistrate's position in 2000, he worked as a Circuit Court bailiff.

He recently was offered and accepted a position in the law office of Craig Manford, a Martinsburg defense attorney. As a "boy Friday," DeHaven said he expects to perform various tasks for Manford, which will allow him to continue his legal education.

A good night's sleep also should be on the horizon, DeHaven said.

Since he was elected, DeHaven said sleep has been trumped by worries about whether he did the right thing with various cases, and upcoming cases.

Making a judgment can deprive people of money or their freedom.

"Whatever you do is going to affect somebody, somehow," he said. "When you care and do the ethical thing that people elected you to do, it's a hard job."

DeHaven said he has nothing personal against current Sheriff Randy Smith, but simply wants the job. A clean campaign with a focus on pertinent issues is in store, DeHaven said.

"It's nothing personal and it never will be," he said.

Knowing what it takes to keep a case moving through the court system and what defense attorneys look for is invaluable, he said.

If elected, DeHaven said one of his top priorities will be reinstating the DARE program, in which a deputy teaches schoolchildren about the dangers of drugs.

In some cases, "If they don't hear it at school they're not going to hear it," DeHaven said. "You may save a child's life and you may save a child from being a career criminal."

He said he also hopes to connect law enforcement to the senior citizen population - to show them they have not been forgotten - and plans to report not how many arrests have been made but whether the number of arrests has decreased.

"I'd rather prevent it and take great pride in saving people's property and their lives," he said. "The key to that is high visibility, there's no question about it."

Task forces could be created to handle known problem areas, to ensure officers are dedicating hours, not minutes, to such areas, he said.

"You are never going to win the war on crime but you gotta keep fighting the fight," he said.

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