(02/17/2007)
WTAP-TV NEWS - Wirt County has a sheriff's department consisting of Sheriff Andy Cheuvront and one deputy, Sergeant Lew Peck.

When it has cases ranging from accidents to domestic disputes, it relies on the West Virginia State police Elizabeth detachment for backup.

But the sheriff was distressed to learn that, starting next week, the three troopers from that detachment might be working in Parkersburg.

"With the rescheduling, taking the troopers out of the county on a daily basis," Sheriff Cheuvront says, "and coming back in on calls that are needed in this county, the slow response time, 30 to 45 minutes, to back up on officers here, is going to be critical."

Wirt County funds the one deputy through a levy which, after one rejection by voters, was approved five years ago.

"If there was something financially we could do to cure it, we would do it," says County Commissioner Charles Murray, who served as Wirt County's Sheriff in the 1980's. "We just don't have the finances to hire a couple of deputies to replace the State Police."

Pleasants County's Sheriff's Department has three deputies, but that means one deputy to a shift. And the sheriff says his department has more potential trouble spots than Wirt County does.

"We have a prison in Pleasants County, and it has over 500 inmates at this time, and its growing continuously," Sheriff Ted Maston says. "We have several chemical plants, and we have a power house which is a high security risk."

The Parkersburg detachment maintains those counties aren't losing any service from the State Police.

"The West Virginia State Police has a statewide mission," says 1st Sgt. Eric Ashcraft. "We try to provide the best possible service we can to the citizens of West Virginia. We allocate manpower where the need is the greatest. We will answer every call that comes into the State Police, through 911 or our own dispatchers."

So will those troopers be working in (Wirt County and Pleasants County) next week or (in the Parkersburg detachment)?, we asked.

"They'll be working in both," Ashcraft responded. "They'll be working wherever in the state they're needed."

The sheriffs say they've been told the Saint Marys and Elizabeth detachments will be staffed by a secretary, something Ashcraft also denies.

Sheriffs Maston and Cheuvront say they've expressed their concerns about the situation to the governor's office and to local lawmakers.

News Report WTAP-15


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