New Deputy Agreement holds new hires accountable

Sheriff Virgil Miller

BUCKHANNON — Sheriff Virgil D. Miller proposed the “New Deputy Agreement” to Upshur County Commissioners Thursday morning—an agreement anticipated to make the county’s investment of new Deputies worthwhile, as well as maintain retention within the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department.

The “New Deputy Agreement” will be a contract between the County Commission of Upshur County, the Sheriff, and his newly hired, non-certified Deputies. This agreement sets forth expectations of the Deputy with regard to completion of training, continuation of employment upon completion of the Academy and his/her certification as a law enforcement officer in West Virginia. It also outlines how matters will proceed should the Deputy quit the program before completion or fail to achieve certification. Commissioners unanimously supported and approved the implementation of the “New Deputy Agreement.”  

Sheriff Miller explained how their previous approach to new hires has “not been very successful.” Commissioner Terry Cutright and Sheriff Miller noted that in recent years, a handful of new hires failed to even complete the Academy or obtain the required certification. Referencing the last three hires who left their employment before attending the Academy, Sheriff Miller explained, “I think we had $86,000 invested in those three. It’s not a little sum of money.”

According to the agreement, the Deputy will agree to attend the soonest possible training course provided by the West Virginia State Police Academy. If the Deputy fails to complete the training and achieve certification, their employment will be terminated. Additionally, the Deputy must agree to continue employment for the county for a period of at least three years following completion of the Academy and certification as a law enforcement officer. During the time the Deputy will be attending said Academy, Upshur County will pay the Deputy’s salary as established for a non-certified Deputy by the county or applicable Civil Service Rules, tuition and fees for Academy, and travel expenses directly related to attendance of the Academy.

The agreement also states that if the Deputy fails to complete the guidelines of the “New Deputy Agreement,” they must reimburse the county for all expenses incurred, including but not limited to wages, benefits, tuition, fees and expenses equal to that part of such time period that the individual has chosen not to remain employed as a Deputy Sheriff of the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office.

Commissioner Sam Nolte stated, “I think this will motivate candidates to come through the Civil Service Test and get hired this way. Physically, is usually the issue. They get down to the Academy, or before going to the Academy, they realize they’re not in shape.” Sheriff Miller agreed in saying, “If they know they have to sign this agreement, I think they’ll put a little more thought into it. It won’t just be a whim.”

Commissioners additionally received a Proclamation by Governor Jim Justice, entered on February 16, 2021, declaring a State of Preparedness for 51 counties, including Upshur, to remain in effect for 15 days unless terminated by subsequent Proclamation.

In other business, Commissioners approved:

Correspondence from Kelley C. Tierney, Vice President of the Foundation for Better Schools in Upshur County, Inc., requesting permission to place a 4-foot by 8-foot sign on the Upshur County Courthouse property for the month of March 2021. The sign will be a visual reminder of a fundraising initiative for the purpose of allowing the Upshur County Schools Backpack Program to remain self-supporting.

FY2022 West Virginia Community Corrections Grant Program Application requesting the amount of $345,896 in state funds to be used to provide alternate sentencing and reentry services for eligible offenders.

Correspondence from Sheriff Virgil D. Miller requesting the employment of Russ Warner as a fill-in Court Security Officer, effective March 1, 2021.

Correspondence from Janella Cochran, Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility Director, requesting the part-time employment of Mariah Goldsmith as L-UACF Attendant for no more than 19.5 hours per week, effective February 21, 2021.

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