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Commission hears plan for deputies in county schools

November 04, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Stationing sheriff's deputies at Musselman and Hedgesville high schools is being considered, but an assistant Berkeley County Schools superintendent said the officers are not needed as the result of growing problems.

"It's not something we're reacting to, it's not something we need now," Assistant Superintendent Rick Deuell said. "It's something we're planning for."

Deuell discussed the idea Thursday with the Berkeley County Commission. Commissioner Steve Teufel asked county attorney Norwood Bentley to prepare a report on the request.

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If approved, Deuell asked that the deputies be stationed at the schools beginning with the next school year, in August 2006.

The Berkeley County Board of Education would pay for the deputies' salaries for the hours they are in the schools, and hopes to help defray other costs, such as those incurred by needing two more police cruisers.

No deputy was requested for Martinsburg High School because it is inside city limits. A similar discussion might take place with the Martinsburg Police Department about stationing an officer there, Deuell said.

Deuell said the officers could come to know the students. Also, it would allow the students to interact with a trained law enforcement officer.

"We just think it's a win-win," he said.

Attendance at Musselman and Hedgesville high schools totals 2,800. Currently, employees of a private security firm work in the schools, Deuell said.

Berkeley County Sheriff Randy Smith said he strongly favors the plan.

"That's something I'd like to do, I've just never had the funding for it," he said.

Smith said he would rotate all members of the sheriff's department into the schools, allowing each to become acquainted with the students.

Having another two deputies available to work when school is not in session also is beneficial, according to Smith, who has maintained for years that his office is understaffed.

Deuell discussed his idea with the Berkeley County Commission because it oversees the sheriff's department.

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