Pubdate: Mon, 08 Oct 2012
Source: Charleston Gazette (WV)
Copyright: 2012 Charleston Gazette
Author: Kate White


CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Fighting the epidemic of prescription drug abuse 
is the top priority for both candidates running for sheriff in Putnam 
County. They told Gazette editors Monday that's what most crimes can 
be traced back to.

Steve Deweese, a Republican, and Bud Lett, a Democrat, would increase 
the size of the county's drug task force, which has three officers.

"I'd draw from some local departments inside the county and build 
back the task force like it was when I was supervisor," said Lett, a 
former federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer and State 
Police trooper who is now chief of the Kenova Police Department. "We 
had six men, at one time."

As a DEA agent supervising drug task forces, Lett came to Putnam 
County and helped restore federal grant money for the county's 
program in the 1990s, he said.

Deweese, who retired earlier this year to run for sheriff after 
serving 21 years as a Putnam County sheriff's deputy, believes more 
officers in county high schools and a drug tip line answered by a 
deputy, rather than a voice recording, is also necessary.

"The biggest thing is increasing the amount of the drug task officers 
- -- they need some help," Deweese said.

Also, "With the tip line, right now ... it goes right to an answering 
machine. ... What if you call the tip line on a Friday with good 
information [and it's not checked until Monday]?"

Neither candidate said he would favor a law requiring a prescription 
for pseudoephedrine, a cold medicine that is a major ingredient in 
methamphetamine. The candidates said that would be too much of a 
hardship on law-abiding citizens, and that new pseudoephedrine 
tracking efforts were already having an impact on meth.

Both candidates, who grew up in Putnam County, said their extensive 
knowledge of the county would help increase needed patrols in rural areas.

"Call volume is overwhelming now," Deweese said. "Some areas rarely 
see deputies at times."

Deweese and Lett both said they would apply for federal grants aimed 
at increasing police presence in rural communities.

"We have to draw on other resources," Lett said. "When it comes to 
drug investigations, it takes a lot of money."

Deweese said some citizens have asked him if his having worked for 
the department would make it tough to discipline his former 
co-workers. He noted his time in the military and explained the 
during a deployment he had to reprimand several of his fellow soldiers.

"If elected as sheriff, I'd use the same discipline to protect the 
citizens," he said.

Deweese and Lett are running to replace Sheriff Mark Smith, who has 
served the maximum eight years in office.

State voters will consider a proposal to eliminate the term limit for 
sheriffs, but neither Deweese nor Lett thought the term limit should 
be eliminated.

"That can result in a lot of power, maybe too much in a county 
setting," Deweese said.

"For myself, eight years is enough," Lett said, agreeing that someone 
in the position could obtain too much power. "You have to be careful 
about that. Voting someone out is easier said than done sometimes."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom