Sheriff’s Office Has Been Busy In 2014
Wetzel County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Koontz provided the county commission with an update Aug. 6 on recent department activity, including the hiring of a new secretary for the department.
Koontz stated that throughout the last fiscal year, July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014, the department had conducted 1,604 traffic stops, received 594 emergency 911 calls, received 401 non-emergency complaints, responded to 180 automobile accidents, and served 314 circuit court papers. Koontz stated that the department had received $4,250 dollars from a highway safety grant, and as part of that grant, the department wrote 48 citations and issued 108 warnings.
Koontz stated that as of this year, Jan. 1, 2014 until that day, the department had issued 422 citations and 403 warnings. Ninety-three magistrate/civil process papers were served, as well as 180 criminal summonses.
The Ford F-150 truck purchased by the sheriff’s department has also proven to be very useful, according to Koontz. He stated that the truck has been used for transferring ATVs, recovered property, as well as motorcycles. The truck also proved to be useful when the sheriff’s department had to transfer meth lab paraphernalia that was found near a gas well site. Deputies were able to put these dangerous, flammable materials in the bed of the truck, rather than having to keep it inside the vehicle, as they would have had to have done with a cruiser.
Koontz stated that the department’s new tasers work very well, and all officers have been trained and certified on the devices. Furthermore, the department was also able to purchase two new radar units. One of the units was purchased with county funds and the other was bought with funding received from EQT. Koontz said these radar units would assist with speed control, specifically speeding by gas well workers. “They hear as many complaints as we do,” Koontz stated of EQT. “They donated that money, and it was used for a radar unit.”
Also, another K-9 unit was purchased by the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department. Deputy Koontz stated that K-9 Major is handled by Deputy Mike Neff, who lives in the Pine Grove area. “That makes it handy,” Koontz remarked, stating that a K-9 unit is close by no matter “where you are at.”
“We replaced all of our pepper spray,” Koontz spoke on another matter. “The pepper spray has dates on it. It has a useful life-span, and after a certain amount of time, it becomes outdated, and they recommend you replace it.”
Koontz stated that all officers are still qualified and up-to-date on their certification for firearms use. The department uses biannual certification, twice a year. “All the radars have been certified this past year,” he added. “They are supposed to be certified yearly to make sure they are in proper working order, an that’s been taken care of.”
Furthermore, all the deputies have received active-shooter training, according to Koontz. “We haven’t done much training in that field as a department, and we don’t get much training locally. Active shooter training did both, and last fall we had an instructor come here from Virginia and train our whole department,” noted Koontz. “We utilized Magnolia High School on a Saturday. All deputies attended it and we are going to follow up on it.”
Koontz added that all the employees of the courthouse also received an active shooter training and a follow-up training session has been scheduled for November. “It will expound on what we’ve already learned, and it goes a little more in depth,” Koontz added.
“Myself, Deputy Hayes, and Court Officer Tennant attended that training in Morgantown, and I spoke with the gentleman that did this training, and they are going to come here and do it for us. The training is paid for by the state Board of Risk. We just have to pay for accommodations for them to spend the night here.”
Koontz stated that the department also purchased and made available in all patrol vehicles, first-aid kits, flares, toe straps, portable air compressors, and high-visibility rain coats that have reflective striping on them.
Their first-annual summer picnic was also held by the Wetzel County Sheriff’s Department, in conjunction with the Wetzel County Coalition Against Drug Abuse. “That was a big venture,” noted Koontz. “It required help from a lot of people. The sheriff’s office and coalition joined together to do that. It included a lot of donations and help from a lot of people in the community and businesses in the community. I think all deputies volunteered to come out there, except for maybe one. You know, those guys all came out on their own time. Someone posted the question about them being paid for that, but they weren’t paid for that. It was on their own time, and they did that just to help out. We deemed it a success. We served 350 hot dogs that day, estimated around 250 people in attendance, and I think we are going to try to do it again next year. That’s the plan anyway.”
Koontz also introduced the department’s new secretary, Julie Slie. “She’s been spending a lot of her time getting her office arranged so she could do her job,” Koontz stated. “We’ve never had a secretary, so she’s starting from scratch. It’s hard to step into a position like that. There was no position to step into. She had to form a position and still is. She’s taking care of a lot of things like logging in our traffic citations and keeping track of our civil processes. A lot of the time deputies would forget to log these things down, so a civil process comes through Julie, and she can keep track of that stuff,” said Koontz. “So we had some programming, and it has the ability to keep all citations logged. We are forming a database. We can now enter a name now in the computer and if they’ve ever been stopped and issued a warning or citation, it’ll pop up their information, what they’re driving, name, and address, which is a help in us locating people.”
Koontz stated that the office has also worked on its phone lines. “The sheriff’s office phone line has been listed for years as 304-455-2430,” Koontz stated. “But it never rang into the sheriff’s office. It’s rang into the 911 center.” Koontz stated that with Slie now at the office, “It’s cutting out the middle man. Before people would call with non-emergency calls, they’d get a dispatcher, and they’d have to take a message or try to find one of us if no one was in the office. Now they call Julie directly and she takes the call. A lot of calls she’s been able to handle.”