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New sheriff brings change to department

April 21, 2009|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - Since Morgan County Sheriff Vince Shambaugh began his new job in January, some changes have been made that benefit taxpayers and department personnel.

Morgan County Commission President Brenda J. Hutchinson mentioned the department's cost savings during a recent commission meeting.

Hutchinson said the sheriff's department previously had high cell phone costs, but Shambaugh got a new contract with the phone carrier that reduced the bill by about $300 a month.

Shambaugh said a departmental plan cut the cell phone bills in half.

He said some county taxpayers might think that with telephone equipment in vehicles and portable phones, officers don't need cell phones.

But when "we're out in the field, we need cell phones," Shambaugh said, especially for sensitive information police do not want heard on scanners.

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"It's another tool and can be used for texting, as well as calls," he said.

Beginning in July, overtime will be paid to department officers. Shambaugh said he was pleased the Morgan County Commission approved overtime.

The $26,000 budgeted for overtime is important, Shambaugh said, "because the job is not a 40-hour work week."

The commissioners also approved paying for accrued comp time officers would have lost if they did not use it.

Shambaugh said the 11-man department needs two officers, and about 40 applicants responded. He said he knows more people need jobs, but the interest could be from the desire to be part of the new team.

"We have dedicated and aggressive guys," Shambaugh said.

As the department head, he wants to lead "from the top down," he said, and he wants to be first in line to knock down a door if that's what needs to be done.

Shambaugh retired from the Air National Guard in February, and he wants the lowest-ranking, newest police officer to be served first, like in the military.

If you give the officers the "best equipment, the best pay and competitive pay, they will work the best for you," Shambaugh said.

In order to keep officers in good physical shape, they have memberships at Rankin Fitness Center that are paid for by the department's Concealed Weapons Fund.

Part of the $90 concealed weapon registration permit that comes through the sheriff's department goes into the fund.

"We need to be fit," Shambaugh said.

He said the department complements the Town of Bath Police Department in Berkeley Springs with the leadership of Craig Pearrell, who recently became police chief.

Just like a recent donation of body armor to the sheriff's department that Pearrell won through a story-writing contest while serving in Iraq, Shambaugh said two shotguns were given to the Bath Police and one to Paw Paw's police department in December.

The shotguns came from the Frederick County Sheriff's Department in Winchester, Va., when its department got new rifles, he said.

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