CATLETTSBURG The Boyd County Fiscal Court voted unanimously — although one commissioner expressed his reservations — to reinstate the Sheriff’s substation in Westwood.
Boyd County Sheriff Bobby Jack Woods said he was pleased with Tuesday’s move by the fiscal court.
Commissioner Randy Stapleton introduced a motion to reopen the substation following a vote on the 2021 sheriff’s budget. Commissioner Larry Brown seconded the motion, leading to a discussion in the court.
Last year, the fiscal court decided to close the substation because the sheriff could not put a deputy on duty there. Commissioner Keith Watts said computers — which are going to be put into deputies’ cruisers beginning Thursday — eliminated the need for a physical office for deputies to do paperwork at an office.
Watts, who at a work session last week seemed adamant against reopening the substation, said he’d vote in favor of the measure if there’s staffing at the location.
Judge-Executive Eric Chaney said he hopes there are ways to “think outside the box” in putting in more substations throughout the county, perhaps by setting aside office space inside volunteer fire departments.
Brown said as a part of the reopening, he wants the sheriff to collect data on how the Westwood office, and future satellite offices, could benefit the county.
After the meeting, Woods was more than happy to provide the numbers. Last year, the sheriff’s department fielded 11,986 calls for service. Of those calls, 73% of them came from the Westwood, Summit/Ironville and Cannonsburg Fire Districts, according to the sheriff.
One hundred three of those calls in Cannonsburg were related to shoplifting complaints at Walmart — that’s roughly one every three days.
England Hill and Big Sandy Fire District, which is down the U.S. 23 corridor towards Lawrence County only accounted for 15% of calls, while East Fork and Norton Branch on Route 3 accounted for 10.5%.
The Westwood substation would put a deputy within 8-10 minutes of the areas they’re most likely to respond to, the sheriff said.
However, the sheriff said to staff the office full time with the current budget isn’t feasible. But that doesn’t mean it would sit empty, either, he said.
“The idea is omnipresence,” Woods said. “If people see a car out there, they know we’re in the area. They know we have a presence here and are prepared to serve the people and enforce the law.”
In addition, Woods said it’s also about making deputies more accessible to the public and improving the quality of working conditions for his men in uniform.
“A guy can’t stay in his car 10 hours a day filling out paperwork. He needs to get out and stretch his legs, use the restroom. If you’re out in Westwood at 2 a.m., there’s nowhere open to use the restroom,” Woods said. “If you’re in your car, it’s harder to talk to the public then if they’re sitting down across from a desk.”
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