Highland Sheriff’s Office Year in Review
2014 was a busy year for the Highland County Sheriff’s office. Alongside serving the community in it’s typical capacities, such as emergency calls, traffic control and assisting citizens, the department also had a number of highlights, personnel additions and training accomplishments. Sheriff Tim Duff explained.
“Deputy Beef Hull and Ms. Sandy Botkin, my dispatcher, have retired this year. These two individuals will be sorely missed for quite some time. Brian Malcolm has been hired as a full time dispatcher, and Robbie Vandevander has been hired as a part time dispatcher. We were very fortunate in having both deputies Bob Kelly and Chad Lightner graduate from the criminal justice academy over in Weyers Cave. We’ve got six full time deputies, one sheriff, five full time dispatchers and now we’re up to three part time dispatchers.”
The department attended a number of trainings to help better serve the community.
“Deputy Kelly attended an Alzheimer’s awareness training class. Deputy Lightner attended taser instructor school. Deputy Lightner also graduated from a 40 hour D.A.R.E school, and will begin Highland County’s D.A.R.E. program in January.
“Five deputies, one dispatcher and myself, have been CIT certified, which means we are Crisis Intervention Team trained, to better deal with our persons with mental health issues in our county.
“Four deputies and myself completed a suicide awareness training class. Six deputies and myself completed a 40 hour man-tracking school, and Deputy John Wright and myself completed a forty hour advanced man-tracking school. Deputy Neil and myself completed a class on courtroom testimony, and Deputy Neil has also completed multiple trainings from the Virginia State Police for his assignment to the Regional Drug Task Force.
“All deputies and myself completed our annual firearms certification program.
“The Commonwealth’s Attorney, the director of Social Services and myself attended a multi-disciplinary team training. This allows for providing assistance to victims of sexual assault.”
“Under operations, and Im very proud of this one, we are very active with the National Drug Take-Back Initiative – to date, we have taken in over 300 pounds of pills.
“Deputy Botkin arranged for our annual jail inspection, as well as our fire inspection, and we have passed in our respects. Deputy Neil is active in the Drug Interdiction Program, as a team member for our Regional Drug Task Force. Deputy Wimer is very active as an instructor at our academy in Weyers Cave. Deputy Wright handles my courthouse security. Due to the new statewide changes to the mental health laws and policies, Highland County has taken major steps in streamlining the process to expedite services to the consumer.
“Plans are underway to outfit a spare room upstairs in the sheriff’s office for forensic interviews for victims of abuse and sexual assault.
“The office was instrumental with two searches for missing persons on state land, one criminal case on the National Forest land, and one criminal case on private land – all were successful due to the man-tracking techniques that we’ve implemented.”
“Under public relations, we conducted three concealed carry classes, and we have many more scheduled for 2015. Our Friday evening summer lawn parties continue to be very popular, and we’ll start them up again in May.”
“Overall, it’s been another very busy year. We feel we have served the citizens of Highland County honorably, keeping our decisions morally, ethically and professionally sound. As always, we welcome comments, and we will always welcome walk-ins at the front door. Please feel free to call with any questions or concerns. Our number is 468-2210.”
Sheriff Duff indicated he will seek re-election to the position in the upcoming election year.
“My intent this year is to run, my intent is not, and I stress not, to campaign in uniform. I’ll be all over the county, but it will not be in uniform in a marked vehicle. I don’t believe that’s why I’m here.”
For Allegheny Mountain Radio, this is Scott Smith.