BERKELEY COUNTY, W.Va. (WDVM) — Berkeley County Sheriff Curtis Keller has been vocal about needing more deputies to cover areas around the county.
“If you look at this county and the way it’s growing, we are increasing every day, in people coming in,” Keller said.
However, like any law enforcement agency, money is needed to fund his desired seven deputy addition request. The county council believes revenue is spread thin. Councilwoman Elaine Mauck believes the state needs to give more control to the county, in other words, home rule.
“Our problem is the state, they don’t want to give us home rule, they haven’t stepped up to do that, but they keep saying we give you one cent sales tax, then you got to take it away from something else, being a growing county we can’t take it away from any place else, we are as tight as we can get,” Mauck said.
According to the councilwoman, Berkeley County’s population has grown to over 100,000 people. Sheriff Keller reported at the end of 2018, his department experienced over 47,000 911 calls. He added that it’s projected that the county will receive approximately 56,000 calls by the end of this year.
For this reason, the sheriff said he needs enough deputies to cover both the area and workload that comes with this type of population.
“We can’t be proactive or reacting to all the calls, we’re not proactive,” said Keller. “We can’t go out and do investigations, do follow-ups on cases because you know you come in today you got 20 calls you come in tomorrow you got 25 calls, these guys are just constantly moving.”
In addition to asking for the county’s assistance, Keller noted that the COPS grant is also a viable solution to bringing more deputies to his department. The COPS grant would provide a certain percentage of money to help fund the salaries of new personnel for about three years, Keller reported. After that three years run out, it’s then the responsibility of the county to sign an agreement to keep new deputies on the payroll.