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Sheriff: Firm could help with county security

November 19, 2004|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The only way to possibly prevent another break-in at the county's tax department is to hire a professional security firm to assess the building and its alarm system, Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith told the county commissioners Thursday morning.

Cash from the teller stations at the building, at 110 W. King St. beside the main courthouse, was taken during a break-in in late October. Martinsburg Police Department officers continue to investigate the case. No arrests have been made.

At the Berkeley County Commission meeting, Commissioner Steve Teufel mentioned the amount of money taken, but police later requested it not be released. Releasing the amount could compromise the ongoing investigation, said Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster, with the sheriff's department.

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Teufel asked Smith during the meeting how he plans to protect the tax department's building before the office is moved a few blocks away to the Dunn Building.

Smith answered that his sole duty as sheriff is to protect those who enter the building during business hours. He said he would not allow the commissioners to put him in the position of saying what is needed to properly secure the building at night.

One of the lingering questions surrounding the break-in concerns the alarm system. A determination has not been made as to whether it malfunctioned or someone with a key turned it off after entering the building, Smith said.

A professional with a security company could indicate what kind of alarm is needed and how access to the alarm system should be granted, Smith said.

The commissioners said they will follow Smith's suggestion and contact a security company.

County Administrator Deborah Hammond concluded the discussion by telling Smith that he can review the blueprints for the tax department's new office space in the Dunn Building, and make any changes he feels are necessary.

The tax department will be moved to the Dunn Building in six months to a year, Teufel said.

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