Kentucky State Trooper assistance was one of the main reasons Logan County Sheriff Wallace Whittaker lost a budgeted deputy position at the sheriff’s department. Whittaker had requested another deputy Monday from the fiscal court, but was turned down by a three to three vote. The court was down one magistrate with Drexel Johnson absent.
“I would not be asking if I didn’t need it,” said the sheriff. “We are very short handed. I only have two detectives and 14 road deputies. We really need it.”
Magistrate Jack Crossley, who voted no along with magistrates Jo Orange and Dickie Carter, asked Whittaker why he didn’t use Kentucky State Troopers. Crossley mentioned an unsolved murder case where 65-year-old Robert Wetton was found dead in his barn in August 2015. “Is that case still ongoing?” asked Crossley. “Did the Kentucky State Police help in this case?”
Whittaker replied no to Crosseley’s question. The sheriff’s department is handling the case and it is still an ongoing investigation.
Crossley told the ND&L he thought the sheriff’s department was overstaffed as it was.
“If you check Todd County, they have Kentucky State Troopers that help them. Wallace doesn’t let state troopers help him, so I cannot vote for another deputy. They are here, so why not use them?” said Crossley.
Whittaker said he was disappointed in the court’s decision, but that he would deal with it.
“I wouldn’t have come to court asking if I didn’t think we needed it,” said the sheriff. “They are a good group to work with (fiscal court), but they are always talking about how many drugs we have in the county and how much speeding is going on. Well, I need deputies to battle it.”
Magistrate Jo Orange said she had at least two concerns with a new deputy.
“Why was a deputy in the budget as a school resource officer when the school was paying him for the time he was SRO, and he was actually working as a deputy, but not being counted as such?” Orange wondered. “I suppose there is no way to go way back, but has Wallace had an extra deputy for several years? And two, although I appreciate and respect what our officers are doing to protect all our citizens, I am not fully persuaded of the need.”
Whittaker said he has two deputies that serve the school systems. One who is paid by the state part-time and one paid full-time. He uses both when they are not working for the school and pays them from his budget for that work. However, one keeps busy by serving papers and is not utilized on the road.
“We can only use these guys when the school is closed. Plus one is a civil process deputy and that takes most of his time when out of school,” said the sheriff.
Magistrate Thomas Bouldin made the motion to allow the deputy. He was seconded by magistrate Barry Joe Wright and drew a yes from Judge Executive Logan Chick, who sits in a tie breaking position, but with the absence of Johnson during this vote, ended up being the tie vote instead, which killed the motion.
“We already had it in the budget,” said Chick on why he voted yes. “If we were talking about a brand new deputy I would have voted no. This was just maintaining what we had.”
Chick said he felt some on the court thought a deputy was covered up under a school resource officer. He also felt state troopers played a part as well.
“Logan County only has one state trooper assigned a half a day every two weeks.” Chick said he had heard that was because Logan County had a well staffed sheriff’s department. “Todd County has four full-time troopers. But that’s because they don’t have near the police presence that we do,” said Chick. “I think we are all paying taxes for this service from the state, so we need to have representation from the state police.”
To contact Chris Cooper, email [email protected] or call 270-726-8394.