IOW sheriff seeks deputies

Published 11:21 am Saturday, March 31, 2012

ISLE OF WIGHT—Isle of Wight County Sheriff Mark Marshall will ask the Board of Supervisors to fund two additional deputy positions this year and hopes to get funding for more in the future.

Marshall claims 43 aren’t enough for the county’s population and size.

Each deputy answers an average of 932 calls annually, Marshall said. In nearby Gloucester County, which has 36,858 residents compared to Isle of Wight’s 35,720, its 53 deputies respond to an average 650 calls each.

Isle of Wight, which currently has 39 deputies on staff, has 316 square miles whereas Gloucester has 218.

Deputies in Isle of Wight are paid an average of $37,363 annually, Marshall said. Benefits cost another $16,000 for each. The county budgeted $1.9 million for 2011-2012 in department payroll.

In January, Marshall relieved deputies from their full-time duties at the county’s elementary schools to dedicate more to emergency calls. The schools are still part of the department’s everyday patrols.

“I need to get closer to 50 or 55 deputy positions to answer calls,” Marshall said.

He said he will ask for one additional position each year until the department reaches adequate staffing. For the time being there are no plans to bring full-time deputies back to the elementary schools.

Windsor Elementary School Principal Dr. Stenette Byrd said he thinks a full-time presence of an officer in the school was beneficial in terms of student safety.

“It’s always better to be proactive,” Byrd said.

Full-time officers often helped conduct classroom activities at the school, Byrd said. Topics included discussions on school safety and bullying. The officers would also help with traffic control during morning drop off and afternoon pickup.