WINFIELD, W.Va. — An additional sheriff's deputy may soon be on the road in Putnam County.
Sheriff Steve Deweese presented the county commission with a request Tuesday for $13,000 to shuffle some positions to achieve a more suitable rank structure and add a deputy.
Commissioners approved his request pending a legal review by the county attorney.
The sheriff's office runs four shifts, each led by a sergeant and a corporal.
"We just had one corporal on each shift," Deweese said. "Right now we've got a sergeant that's off with an injury and we've got a corporal that's off with an injury, so I've got a deputy running that shift."
A second shift has also recently been run by a deputy as both the sergeant and corporal have had to take time off.
Deweese wants to add a second corporal to each shift to avoid that situation in the future.
To do that, he plans to promote four officers to the rank of corporal, raising their salaries incrementally. To offset the salary increase, he plans to replace a retiring sergeant with a deputy instead of promoting another sergeant.
The retiring sergeant has been serving as a full-time bailiff. The full-time bailiff position will be replaced with three part-time civilian bailiffs, and that's the part of the plan that requires legal review.
State law requires a deputized officer to be available to judges, but county attorney Jennifer Scragg Karr and Deweese believe that if the circuit judges accept a civilian bailiff, they aren't required to assign a sworn deputy to the court.
Deweese said he spoke to the circuit judges and magistrates, and they've all indicated to him that civilian bailiffs would be acceptable as long as they have military or police backgrounds.
The retiring sergeant has agreed to be one of the part-time civilian bailiffs, and Deweese told the commission that the others also meet that criteria.
Karr asked the commission for time to review a relevant case to be certain that civilian bailiffs, with supervision by a sergeant in the sheriff's department, would be legal, so the commission approved Deweese's request pending her review.