2017-06-21 / News

Morgan slated to get officer under Highway Safety pilot program

by Kate Shunney

The Morgan County Sheriff’s Department is tentatively set to get an additional officer for local roadway patrol through a pilot program under the Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

Sheriff KC Bohrer asked the Morgan County Commissioners to set a letter of support for the program last Wednesday, June 14, which they approved.

Bohrer said the state agency contacted the sheriffs of the Eastern Panhandle to set up the pilot program, which would send four officers to the three counties at no cost to the departments for three years.

The officers would work with an emphasis on highway safety issues. Their salaries, equipment and associated costs would be paid by the Governor’s Highway Safety Program, said Bohrer.

“Their primary role would be highway safety and drug interdiction,” Bohrer told the commissioners.

He said this area was favored for the allocation of officers because of the high volume of traffic and the cooperative efforts of the sheriffs of Morgan, Berkeley and Jefferson counties on other law enforcement issues.

County officials asked how an officer assigned to the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department would be paid, and what would happen to the officer and his or her equipment at the end of the three-year pilot program.

Bohrer said equipment -- including a cruiser, weapons and uniforms -- would stay with the local department at the end of the program. He said the officer would leave the department if the county couldn’t afford to keep them at the end of the three-year pilot program. Bohrer said the program could also be extended beyond three years.

Commissioner Bob Ford asked Bohrer not to “jump the gun” in hiring a new officer until a final agreement is in place with the state. Any officer assigned to Morgan County would be paid by the county, and the county would be reimbursed under the program.

The Governor’s Highway Safety Program is the lead agency for the state’s participation in federally-funded highway safety programs.

The state is split into eight traffic safety programs which focus efforts on reducing highway crashes, injuries and fatalities in West Virginia’s 55 counties. Efforts include reducing distracted driving, improving child passenger safety and seatbelt usage, reducing DUIs and improving general highway safety.

Sheriff Bohrer said highway safety efforts also tie into addressing the region’s drug trade.

“The majority of our drug interdiction happens through traffic stops,” Bohrer said.

He indicated the additional officers could come on board in the fall.

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