MORGANTOWN, W.Va (WDTV) - You've probably heard about changes with State Police responding to 911 calls in Monongalia County, but this has forced the Sheriff's Office to make changes of their own.
The issues relate to manpower and on Wednesday morning, the County Commission agreed to hire two more deputies to help ensure that all calls are handled.
For years, there was an agreement between State Police and MECCA 911 that they'd rotate calls with the Monongalia County Sheriff's Office. Due to a lack of manpower and several shift shortages, changes had to be made.
"They still are responding to 911 calls when they're available to," said Troop 1 Commander Capt. J.E. Stout. "We're just not accepting every other call because we simply don't have the staff to do that."
Stout noted that there's no concern of the detachment closing. They still have more than a dozen troopers, but it just comes down to a lack of manpower able to handle all the 911 calls they were getting before.
"At the end of the day, we made the conscious decision that we were just not going to be able to accept calls that were specifically earmarked for the State Police from the 911 center."
In order to meet the necessary manpower to handle the calls, the Monongalia County Commission agreed to bring on two more deputies.
"When you're handling approximately 39,000 calls a year with vacation and everything, this puts a strain on your manpower, especially now picking up the calls State Police would normally handle," said Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer.
Palmer says his deputies respond to about 21 more calls a day in an eight-day period this year from last year. Regardless of the staffing situation, Palmer says each call will get a response.
"The ultimate goal is to make sure that this county stays safe," Palmer said. "That's what I'm trying to stress, telling everybody if you call 911 or you call the Sheriff's Department, we will have a deputy respond. If one of the agencies need the backup, then we're there to back them up. And vice versa, if we need help, they're there to back us up."