EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCLAY CONTROVERSY
from Eyewitness News Online
Sheriff: Clay Deputies No Longer Working Nights, Weekends
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Jul. 20, 2012 7:52 PM EDT
Updated: Jul. 20, 2012 8:22 PM EDT
Clay , Clay County , West Virginia
Controversy is continuing to swirl at the Clay County Sheriff's Department, with the sheriff making significant scheduling changes.
In February, Sheriff Randy Holcomb told county commissioners his department would no longer enforce traffic laws, investigate accidents, or make DUI arrests.
At the time, the sheriff claimed decision was made because half of the arrests were being thrown out by a Clay County assistant prosecutor. He was also upset that state police moved 17 miles away, taking the county's only intoximeter with them.
Commissioners had previously said they were working on a plan to get an intoximeter at the sheriff's department.
Now, Sheriff Holcomb says his deputies will no longer work past 4:00 p.m. on weekdays, and will not work weekends.
Holcomb refused to speak to Eyewitness News on camera about the matter, but referred to a letter he sent county commissioners on June 26, 2012.
He asked asked commissioners to reinstate the 2012-2013 budget for the department to equal the 2011-2012 budget.
The letter reads:
"The department needs the deputy position and the overtime monies associated with the same, to be reinstated.
A civil service test has been completed and I currently have two applicants that have qualified. I am in the process of conducting interviews and background checks and plan on hiring a deputy no later than the end of July. The position is critical to the operation of the sheriff's office and providing service to the Citizens of Clay County. With the current deputies' annual and military leave some shifts will not be covered without this position being filled and some shifts may have to be completely eliminated.
I have always attempted to use every resource available to me and to efficiently operate this department. I have always been able to return unused monies to you in previous years. Without this funding it places a hardship on the current deputies and also to the Citizens of Clay County."
County Commission president Jerry Linkinoggor denied the sheriff's requests in a letter date July 11, 2012.
In a letter dated July 13, 2012, Holcomb sent a letter to Whom It May Concern, writing:
"Effective Saturday July 14, 2012 all Clay County Deputy Sheriffs will be working from 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. There will be no evening shift or night calls.
The change is due to budget cuts by the Clay County Commission, military leave and annual leave that employees are entitled to. This leaves no one to cover the additional shifts being short on manpower and funding.
Any calls for assistance after 4:00 p.m. daily, Monday-Friday, and any night calls should be directed to the WV State Police."
The director of the Nicholas/Clay 911 center says they field around 125-150 calls from the county each week. The sheriff's department is made up of four deputies, plus Sheriff Holcomb. The Clay detachment of the state police is made up of four state troopers, who are now working out scheduling differences to fill the empty times left by the sheriff's department.
In a statement, state police spokesperson Michael Baylous said, "we're going to do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission we have, whether in Clay County or any other county in the state."
Baylous did not wish to specifically comment on the issue with the sheriff's department. He says state police will, "continue on to do their job and answer calls and perform and exceptional service to the citizens of West Virginia.
Clay County Commission President Jerry Linkinoggor did not return calls seeking comment on this story.
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