Longtime deputies stepping down in Jefferson County

September 22, 2006|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - What do you get with more than 45 years of combined service from two well-known members of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department?


Lots of good stories.

Lt. Robert E. Shirley and Chief Deputy Jesse Jones say they will retire from the department today to take new jobs at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility near Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

The facility opened last year to more effectively train U.S. Customs officials assigned to protect the country from terrorist threats. The complex features mock border crossing sites, motel rooms and airport baggage areas to perform training.

Jones said he will be a manager for a private contractor providing security at the complex. Shirley will be lead supervisor for the security operations.


The jobs sound serious for two members of the sheriff's department who are always good for a laugh or two.

Jones and Shirley took their jobs seriously, but never too seriously not to inject some humor.

There was always time for some ribbing between them and other officers, and commentary about the sometimes bizarre moments they ran into on the job.

Jones and Shirley sat down for an interview Wednesday to talk about the five administrations they worked in, harrowing moments on the job and the comical.

Shirley, 55, started at the sheriff's department in 1981 and Jones, 54, started in 1985.

"He was a late bloomer," Shirley said of Jones.

Shirley said he started with a salary of $8,400 a year and Jones earned $10,200 when he began.

"I had a wife and two kids two support," Jones said.

So what did that mean?

Work more.

The two said they worked extra jobs at places like Jefferson Memorial Hospital, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife's National Conservation Training Center and even the firewood business to make ends meet.

"We worked carnivals, we worked fairs. I worked at Shepherd College for eight years," said Jones, explaining that took a long time of dedicated work to get to a comfortable spot.

"It's about like giving a squirrel nuts after he has lost his teeth," Jones said.

The two laughed as they recounted memorable moments on the job, like the time Jones was pursuing a man on a motorcycle that didn't have a license plate.

There was a passenger on the motorcycle, and instead of sitting on the bike facing forward, the passenger was facing Jones and giving Jones an obscene gesture as Jones and the cycle looped throughout the Blue Ridge Mountain.

Jones lost track of the motorcycle but he later found the passenger walking along a road.

"It was payback time," said Jones, adding that he picked up the man for public intoxication.

Jones and Shirley were around during the existence of the Stonegate Christian commune and worked through the sometimes controversial administration of former Jefferson County Sheriff Robert L. Buracker Jr.

The Stonegate Christian commune was in a large house on the Shenandoah River south of Charles Town and it was there in 1982 that a 23-month-old boy was spanked with a wooden paddle for two hours by his father as his mother looked on.

The child died of shock and internal bleeding and the incident gained national media attention.

"It's a void. It really is," Jefferson County Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober said of the depature of Jones and Shirley.

Boober said the expertise that Jones and Shirley had made him feel comfortable to "go home at night and sleep."

"I never thought I'd be here 25 years, but the time has went by so fast and here we are," Shirley said.

Shirley and Jones came to the department when staffing was thin. Shirley said he was the fourth deputy when he was hired.

The county jail used to be in the sheriff's department at the corner of Liberty and George streets, and Jones said he can remember being called in off his road patrol when correctional officers could not get inmates to go back into their cells.

"Back then, we didn't have a dog or pepper spray. So it was just force against force. You were in a no-win situation all the time," Jones said.

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