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New Putnam Sheriff to Focus on Drug Crimes and School Safety

PUTNAM COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The newly elected sheriff for Putnam County doesn’t take office until January, but he says he’s ready to hit the ground running, now.

Steve Deweese set a goal to become sheriff 21 years ago. Tuesday night, he accomplished that goal.

The sheriff elect has already set short and long-term goals for his upcoming term.

“I said it from day one when I announced my candidacy for sheriff that the drug problem, not only in Putnam County, but across the United States -- we have to start deterring a little bit of that, and you will see a (reduction) in crime,” Deweese said.

Deweese says 86 percent of crime is drug related. His goal is to reduce drug crimes in the county by at least 10 to 15 percent. A good place to start is in the schools.

“Whatever you have going on in society, you're going to see the ramifications of that in high school,” Poca High School Assistant Principal Pat Burlingame said.

Poca High School used to have a prevention resource officer (PRO) on the job every day.

Now, there's only one in the county, so they have to share him with the rest of the schools.

“We need that PRO officer here,” Burlingame said.

Deweese is already looking into applying for grants to get an officer for every school. To protect students and his deputies, he also wants to bring back the K-9 unit.

“Not only as a deterrent for an active shooter in our schools, but it's a huge officer safety thing for them on the streets,” Deweese said.

“That's not available to us at this time, and it was very helpful; especially with the parking lot area to search out drugs that may be in vehicles,” Burlingame said.

Deweese has already spoken with school administrators and is planning to work with the board of education to accomplish these goals.

In addition to all of that, he says he plans to immediately speak with his deputies about any changes they would like to see within the department.

Deweese won the race for sheriff with more than 66 percent of the vote.


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