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In an effort to connect with more citizens, Jefferson County (W.Va.) Sheriff's Department expanding office hours

July 15, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE | richardb@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — Hoping to expand access to more residents, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department is expanding its office hours and coordinating with homeowner association groups through an existing interactive website.

County Sheriff Bobby Shirley said the goal is to connect with more citizens through a system of what he calls, "observe, record and report."

"We want the eyes and ears of the public working with us," Shirley said.

The website — www.epohoa.org — will connect residents across the county and let them know what the department is doing on a daily basis.

Residents would know, for example, if there is a burglary spree under way and how they could help deputies by immediately reporting things they observe that are out of the ordinary in their neighborhoods, Shirley said.

"It would make it easier for the public to contact the department," he said.

Residents in one neighborhood would know through the website what is going on in neighborhoods across the county.

"People in Shannondale don't know the problems of those in Steamboat Run," Shirley said. They would know through the website, he said.

The Loudoun County (Va.) Sheriff's Department uses a similar interactive online system, but on Facebook.

Shirley said his department is expanding its office hours from the current schedule of 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

"About 50 percent of the work force works outside the county and the state," Shirley said. "When they get home, the office is closed."

Shirley also plans to hold monthly public meetings as a way to keep residents informed of the department's activities on a regular basis.

At first, the meetings will be held on the last Thursday of each month from 7 to 9 p.m. at the department's offices at 102 Industrial Blvd. in the Bardane Industrial Park off Wiltshire Road in Kearneysville, W.Va.

Shirley said the meetings might later move to different locations in the county, including area homeowners associations.

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