Sheriff makes case for staying on job

CHARLES TOWN – After 10 months as the County Commission-appointed sheriff, Pete Dougherty wants voters to keep him on the job for the two remaining years of the unexpired term.

[cleeng_content id="345279898" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]“I think the Sheriff’s Office needs some stability,” said Dougherty, a Democrat who earlier this month filed to run in the May primary. Commissioners appointed him after the resignation of Bobby Shirley, who is serving a term in federal prison after the beating of a bank robbery suspect. He’d just been re-elected when he left the post.

Dougherty, previously a longtime county school board member who also headed Veterans Affairs programs for homeless veterans, says he is dedicated to public service.

“I’ve been a public servant my entire adult life,” said Dougherty, who also has served as magistrate. “I enjoy taking on challenges that government has, and I enjoy trying to make government work better for the people.”

Dougherty, who argued in his appointment hearings that what the county needed was an administrator rather than a front-line officer for the position of sheriff, says he is proud of changes he made in the department’s organization.

“I’ve reorganized our investigations office so that we are better positioned and better prepared to investigate crimes,” he said. “The public needs to have an office that does more than report crimes. It needs an office that investigates and gets those who break the law prosecuted.”

With county budget cuts looming, Dougherty says he will argue that his staff should not be cut to the point that it will have to reduce services.

“I’ve already, this year, [postponed buying] $95,000 in equipment,” Dougherty said. “There is some funding underneath the animal control budget and some personnel-related expenditures. So altogether there is about $150,000 in the Sheriff’s budget that I am not going to spend.”

“I’m trying to make sure that we are as lean as we can be, but I am going to have to stand on the principle that safety and security in the county is the primary responsibility of the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “Cuts have to come based on the services being provided.”

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