May 1, 2019
DMAPS officers honored for providing special courtroom
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Constitution creates three separate
branches of government, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or don’t work
together. The same is true for the state and county offices that carry out
different duties on behalf of West Virginia’s citizens.
Calhoun County was recently the setting for a successful
exercise in intergovernmental cooperation. The circuit court there had a
high-profile, multi-defendant murder and armed robbery trial scheduled, but was
short-staffed for courthouse security. The Department of Military Affairs and
Public Safety answered the resulting call for assistance from Gov. Jim Justice.
Twenty-two deputies and officers with the State Fire
Marshal’s Office, Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation and Capitol Police
helped to carry out Justice’s November 2018 executive order. They helped
provide security for the duration of the case, from motions hearings that fall
through jury selection and the eight-day trial in February.
These men and women were honored Wednesday during a
Governor’s Reception Room ceremony at the State Capitol.
“I can’t say ‘thank you’ enough,” Circuit Judge Anita Ashley,
who presided over the case, told the honorees. “My staff and I certainly
appreciate all you’ve done. You really made us feel safe and secure.”
DMAPS Secretary Jeff Sandy presented certificates of
appreciation and the department’s Freedom Pin to each individual. Recalling his
prior career as a federal agent and county sheriff, Sandy underscored how
stressful a criminal trial can be – particularly when defendants are charged
with murder and face possible life sentences if convicted.
“That is why it was so important that the Department of
Military Affairs and Public Safety came forward and provided the security that
was needed,” Sandy said. “These people did an outstanding job.”
The following individuals were honored:
Fire Marshal’s Office
of Corrections and Rehabilitation
of Prisons and Jails
of Community Corrections
Absconder Coordinator Judy Fitzgerald
commended DMAPS Corrections Investigations Director Jeffrey James, a fellow
former career Treasury agent, for organizing and leading the special mission.
Sandy thanked the West Virginia State Police as well. Troopers provided the
initial support when Judge Ashley requested assistance. They also intercepted
drugs found hidden in a courthouse bathroom, allegedly for one of the
executive order provided for short-term security services by DMAPS, which also
signed a memorandum agreement with Judge Ashley and the Calhoun county
commission and sheriff to carry out this mission.
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