UPDATE - State Police coverage in Calhoun remains sketchy, with the agency saying it lacks officers.|
The agency did tell county officials that coverage would remain the same with the closure of the Grantsville Detachment and "would likely be better."
West Virginia is a rural state and for law enforcement that means back up help can sometimes be miles away.
On Tuesday, West Virginia state trooper David Fry was responding to a domestic violence call. No other officers were in the general area. When Fry got to the house he was shot twice, and drove himself to South Charleston for help.
Officials said when state troopers or deputies are alone and responding to calls in rural parts of the county, the level of danger increases.
West Virginia State Police Lt. Michael Baylous said right now they're more than 50 people below their all-time employment high.
Baylous said they work with sheriff departments across the state to get as many officers on the road as possible, but all counties are different. Baylous said, not all can afford to have deputies working 24/7.
District Commander Okey Starsick has advised Calhoun he will be working to improve coverage in Calhoun.
ORIGINAL STORY - 3-24-2017 - State Police coverage has dropped to a low in Calhoun following the closure of the Grantsville Detachment in December, 2016.
Calhoun OES/911 Director Julie Sears says the coverage has continued to decrease despite agency statements made to the Calhoun Commission last year that the closure would not affect present coverage and "would likely improve coverage."
Commissioner Kevin Helmick said, "I'm not surprised. It seems like every time an
agency starts telling you how much better a consolidation is going to be, we are about to get the short end of the stick."
Currently, two officers are attached to the county, while the former detachment commander is on active duty military and two other officers have transferred.
Initially the Grantsville Detachment was transferred to Glenville, but now the two remaining officers are are working out of the Big Otter Detachment.
OES/911 Director Sears says she met with the District Commander Okey Starsick this week and he said the agency is working on providing better coverage for the county.
Calhoun Commission President Chip Westfall said Calhoun Sheriff Jeff Starcher met with the State Police and Sears, and feels confidant that the coverage problem can be worked out.
Sears said Sheriff Starcher has stepped up to the plate answering calls, but indicated his department's limited resources are stretched.
Helmick said the County Commission is expected to have a report on the issue during an April meeting.
While the commission vigorously fought the local closure, they did attempt to have a presence in the county by providing free office space in the county courthouse.
See UPDATE: COL. SMITHERS CONFIRMS STATE POLICE DETACHMENT CLOSINGS - Agency Promoted 30 Officers With $4,000 Pay Raises, Calhoun Commission Will Act Monday. Wirt Public Meeting Monday Evening
STATE POLICE DETACHMENT CLOSURE - "We Have Right-Sized In Order To Serve You Better"
CALHOUN COMMISSION HELPS RETAIN STATE POLICE PRESENCE - Detachment Moved To Glenville