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Morgan Co. sheriff serving final term

Ronnie McIntire says heâEUR(TM)ll miss law enforcement

Ronnie McIntire says heâEUR(TM)ll miss law enforcement

January 14, 2008|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Morgan County Sheriff Ronnie McIntire likes helping people.

And he doesn't mind when people kid him about being like Andy Taylor of Mayberry on the classic TV show.

McIntire is serving his final year as sheriff, and has served more than 30 years in the field. He said he will miss law enforcement.

He said his proudest moment as sheriff came when the citizens re-elected him for a second term.

"That really humbled me," McIntire said. "It told me I was doing a good job."

McIntire, 52, was elected in 2000 and 2004.

McIntire likes helping people and doesn't mind people referring to him as the Andy Griffith character. Some of his deputies kid him about it, he said, but some of Berkeley Springs is like Mayberry, he believes.

"This is the kind of community that will help if we need support," he said. "We do have our problems that we deal with every day, but it's not like the big cities."

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Home-grown citizen

He was raised in Berkeley Springs, and after serving as a military policeman in the U.S. Army, McIntire returned to Berkeley Springs.

In 1977, he joined the Town of Bath Police Department. He was 21. He just started as a police officer that January when two state troopers were killed in Paw Paw, W.Va. After a few days standoff, the man who shot the troopers killed himself, McIntire said.

It was a terrible tragedy and unusual for this area. He said he survived the Army when Vietnam was winding down and did not think such violence would occur in Morgan County.

"And it was a quieter time, when doors were unlocked and there was not a lot of crime," he said.

As a town police officer, he said, he broke up a lot of bar fights and hauled the men into the local jail, "where they'd get a breakfast the next morning of hot dogs and corn flakes," he laughed.

"It was a lot like Mayberry back then," he said.

After 10 years with the Town of Bath, and after 10 more years working out of the county, McIntire took a job in 1997 as chief deputy sheriff in Morgan County.

McIntire has seen his share of tragedy as a law enforcement officer. He said the hardest thing he's ever had to do was to tell a parent their child died in an accident.

"I'm a working sheriff, and it is a dangerous job," he said. "I've never had to take a life, and I'm very thankful for that."

"I've been very lucky," he said.

McIntire admits he worries about everything, and he tries to make things better. When he began as sheriff, he started making improvements to the law enforcement department.

He has doubled the manpower from five to 10 deputies; he added a K-9 that has helped with drug arrests; and he added an investigator to free up deputy paperwork that has saved a lot of time. Initial reports are filed by the deputies and the investigator does follow-up work.

Recently, McIntire put together a swat team of his deputies used for drug raids or "standoffs," or a lost child, he said. The men received additional training and they are always on call. "Everybody has to be in shape," he said.

Law enforcement has learned to protect itself better. "If there is a domestic dispute, never go by yourself," he said.

"As a sheriff's department, we work closely with both the town and state police departments and back up each other.

"We also have mutual agreements with law enforcement agencies in surrounding counties, and we help each other as well," McIntire said.

He said new training is required and new technology has helped to keep the officers safe. Plans for new vests, new weapons and new computers in all the cruisers are in the works.

The sheriff's law enforcement division has 10 full-time deputies, two secretaries and one process server.

The office is responsible for all transports, mainly traveling to state and Maryland facilities, but "we've been to Florida, Ohio and other parts of the country, picking up fugitives who have warrants," he said.

The office is in charge of home confinement visits, community service sentencing, animal control and the anti-drug program in the public schools.

"There is no 40-hour work week in law enforcement," McIntire said. The department receives close to 200 calls a day.

"We do it all," he said.

Sheriff's job

The sheriff is in charge of collecting the Morgan County taxes, and McIntire supervises the seven tax office employees. He is the county treasurer and signs checks.

The sheriff is the conservator for the elderly and will pay their bills and settle estates if appointed by a judge. The sheriff is in charge of the four bailiffs who are responsible for court security.

"There is a lot to the sheriff's job that I didn't know," he said.

"You are only as good as your personnel make you. My staff in all these areas is the best, and they make me look good," McIntire said.

McIntire said he has no plans to run for public office. "Law enforcement has given me a taste of everything. I don't want to pursue public office as some have suggested," he said.

He wants to continue working with people and likes working with kids in something "that would benefit the community," McIntire said.

"I will miss the people, but I have this whole year left, and I'm going to make it my best," he said.

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