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Law enforcement grant will buy computers and firearms

March 11, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

A grab bag of new law enforcement equipment soon will be making its way to law enforcement in Berkeley County following a check presentation Friday by U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito.

Capito, R-W.Va., presented Sheriff Randy Smith and Chief Deputy Kenneth Lemaster with a Department of Justice equipment grant award for $148,500 that will be used to purchase laptop computers and new firearms for the office's 45 law enforcement officers.

The money will be used to purchase 50 new handguns to replace the department's 10-year old cache of firearms and provide the office with 45 new laptop computers, Smith said.

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The computers will cost about $67,000, while the handguns, which will include holsters and laser sites for each weapon, will cost about $52,000. Another $8,000 will be used to buy 10 patrol rifles for the officers, Smith said.

Smith credited Capito with her support for the county's law enforcement efforts.

"She can see the growth and the issues we're facing with the shortage of manpower and the need for upgrading equipment," Smith said. "She's been a great help ever since I've been here and has always been supportive of law enforcement in the area."

Capito called the county's growth rate a benefit to the region, but acknowledged it presents problems for law enforcement, challenging its ability to be proactive in responding to emergency situations.

"With growth comes a lot of good things, but it presents a lot of public safety issues," Capito said.

The award also will go toward the purchase of a number of other items, including outdoor surveillance cameras, tape recorders and 30 taser electronic weapons, costing $24,000.

As part of the upcoming year's budget, the sheriff's department has submitted a law enforcement budget of $3,767,994 to the county commission, almost $2.6 million more than last year's approved figure, according to information provided by county Administrator Deborah Hammond.

The new budget includes hiring eight new deputies.

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