EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSNew Mingo Sheriff Trying To Restore Public's Trust
from Eyewitness News Online
Reported by: Leslie Rubin
Videographer: Matt Durrett
Web Producer: Leslie Rubin
Reported: Sep. 18, 2013 7:07 PM EDT
Updated: Sep. 18, 2013 10:40 PM EDT
Williamson , Mingo County , West Virginia
In the wake of the sweeping corruption investigation in Mingo County, the newest sheriff says he is ready to regain the trust of the public, although he acknowledges it's going to be a long road ahead.
A quick walk past the Mingo County Courthouse, and whispers about what's going on inside can be heard on every street corner.
"It's in an uproar here," lifelong Mingo resident Patricia Maynard said. "You get people in there and you think they're real and then, eventually, what's in the dark comes to light every time."
Some said they are afraid to voice their opinions, while others are relived they feel they finally can.
"I think they should just clean the whole courthouse out and put new people in," William Brumfield said.
Some said there is one glimmer of hope that's finally starting to show.
"Trust is hard to get, but you can lose it in a second," Sheriff James Smith said.
Commissioners selected Smith to serve as interim sheriff until the May election in 2014. Smith said he will run in that election as well.
Hope starting to show inside the embattled sheriff's office, an office that has seen three sheriffs since Eugene Crum was murdered in April.
"We can't be judged by the actions of a few," he said. "It's a shame that this has happened. We're a small community so it really affects us. I don't want people to judge the whole county on the actions of these people."
"That's going to be the hardest thing to do right now," he said. "Right now, the people of Mingo County aint going to trust any official. We've got to gain that back and it's just going to take work and dedication to gain that trust. I just want to be a part of helping this county get back on the right track."
Smith hopes to reinstate the DARE program in county schools and continue efforts to fight the prescription drug epidemic.
He's been a member of the sheriff's department for 13 years. He ran for sheriff in 2012, but lost the election to Crum.
He served as chief deputy under Sheriff Lonnie Hannah. He's worked as a K9 officer, and once worked on undercover drug operations, as well at the SWAT team.
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