By Liz Beavers
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - In a tradeoff suggested by the Mineral County Sheriff’s Department, each of the county’s deputies will be receiving a laptop for use while patrolling on the road.
In addition, the deputies will be receiving new tasers to replace their current outdated ones.
According to Capt. R.J. Wingler, the department has money budgeted for a new cruiser this year, but he felt the laptops were a bigger priority.
"I’d like to repurpose that money," he told the Mineral County Commission during a recent meeting, explaining that cruiser orders are backed up due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It will be at least 18 months until we can even place an order," he said, adding that by that time the county would be in the new fiscal year and would have that year’s funding for cruisers.
Wingler proposed purchasing 14 laptops - one for each deputy - along with a docking station for each desk in the office. Desktop monitors, keyboards and mice are also on the purchase list.
In addition to the laptops, cruisers would be equipped with printers so the department could upgrade to printing e-tickets when they make a traffic stop.
"This would allow us to do all our reporting from the cars," he said.
Wingler estimated the total for the upgrade at $37,000.
He also noted that the software needs to be updated.
"The software we’re using now is the same thing we were using when I came here 19 years ago," he said.
Commissioner Richard Lechliter called the cruiser/laptop tradeoff "a good substitute," and made a motion to approve the purchase.
Jerry Whisner seconded the motion, which passed 3-0.
As for the tasers, Wingler said the current equipment is so outdated that "they are no longer in production and they no longer service them."
The new tasers he proposed would require training for the deputies, as well as a yearly requirement to fire a cartridge.
According to Wingler, the company he spoke with proposed supplying 20 tasers with credit for buying back the current tasers, all training cartridges and replacement cartridges, as well as software upgrades, for approximately $14,400 a year.
Each deputy and each court security officer would be supplied with a taser.
Whisner made a motion to approve the purchase, and Lechliter seconded it, with president Roger Leatherman also voting to approve.