EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSSHERIFF NIXES ENFORCEMENT
from Eyewitness News Online
Clay County Sheriff Puts End To Traffic Stops, Crash Investigations
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Feb. 20, 2012 10:24 PM EST
Updated: Feb. 20, 2012 10:51 PM EST
Clay , Clay County , West Virginia
Controversy erupts in Clay County as the sheriff puts an end to enforcing traffic laws, and investigating car wrecks.
Now, the sheriff is squaring off with the county's assistant prosecuting attorney.
Sheriff Randy Holcomb issued a letter Friday saying that as of 4:00 p.m. that day, the changes would go into effect. He says it comes down to two things: lack of prosecuting, and lack of resources to process DUI's.
Holcomb is drawing a line in the sand and puts an end to his office enforcing traffic laws, and investigating car crashes.
"It's pretty self explanatory. We are wasting about 70% of the overtime here for my deputies in magistrate court," explains Holcomb.
Holcomb says he's fed up with Clay assistant prosecutor Dan Dotson, and what he calls a "lack of prosecution" in the county.
"It's a running joke here, they've named him 'Triple D: Dan the Dismissal Dotson,'" says Holcomb.
Holcomb claims convictions in the county have dropped drastically since Dotson became assistant prosecutor, but Dotson disagrees.
"I am not surprised that the sheriff would do something like that. I am surprised at the content because it makes no sense to me where he says these numbers are down and these cases aren't being prosecuted," Dotson tells Eyewitness News.
Eyewitness News obtained the letter sent out by Holcomb on Friday. It was sent to the Clay/Nicholas E911 Center, Clay County Magistrate Court, Clay County Prosecuting Attorney, Clay County Commission, and the Clay Detachment of the West Virginia State Police.
Holcomb writes that, "any calls for these types of services should be referred to the West Virginia State Police, Clay Detachment."
Holcomb also blames lack of equipment required to process DUI's in a timely manner for the changes. State police recently moved the county's only intoximeter to their new detachment, about 20 miles away from Clay.
Holcomb doesn't think his changes will compromise the safety of the citizens.
"If the state police will do their job and do the road patrol and arrest the drunk drivers. They've got all the equipment and all the funding," he says.
The sheriff says when they have to take DUI suspects to the remote location of the new state police detachment, it's a safety hazard for his five deputies.
"It's not a joke to me anymore. It's not a joke to my guys. We're out here doing our job. We're stopping these cars, we're taking a chance on losing our lives," says the sheriff.
The changes aren't sitting well with many in Clay.
"I think it's appalling that you vote for someone who think is going to do a fabulous job, and even in his last term, did a fabulous job, but you get let down," says Clay Mayor Ryan Clifton.
"This is the alternative to shutting the office completely down and working Monday-Friday 8 to 4, and going home," says Holcomb.
Holcomb ended the letter by saying, "we will continue to answer calls for service, to preserve the peace, and to protect the Citizens of Clay County to the best of our abilities. We will be focusing our efforts towards the constitutional duties of the sheriff's office."
Holcomb says his office will now focus on bailiffing the courts, and serving warrants.
County commissioners did not respond to a call for comment.
State police also would not comment on the issue. Sgt. Michael Baylous says his agency will do whatever it takes to complete the mission. The Clay detachment has five troopers in the county.
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