Coming into elected office in the state with the highest drug overdose rate in the country, specifically, in a county with one of the highest rates in that state, that has to be your number one priority: to combat it. That’s exactly what Brooke County’s new Sheriff Larry Palmer and Chief Deputy Rich Arthurs have planned.
Just before the two sat down to talk with 7News, they were in a meeting with drug task force members, making a plan on how to collaborate better with other agencies to help stop it and make Brooke County a better place.
“We are a safe county,” said Palmer. “We’re small. We’ve lost a lot of population by losing jobs; henceforth, the drug problem we are now occurring, and certainly we want to make it a more attractive county, and we’re going to do our (best). Hand in hand with drug addition, comes property crimes and sometimes it goes to violent crimes.”
Palmer and Arthurs say it starts at a young age. Getting into area schools is a top priority for them.
“If we’re able to give them support and show them that people care, that law enforcement cares. We’re not looking to arrest people. We’re looking to help people,” Arthurs said.
“We’re going to do an adopt a school program. Each deputy was told one or two of them will be assigned to our local schools. Then, we’re going to be active at county fairs, festivals in our county, child seat safety. (Those) are some other options that we’re going to do, so we’re going to be very active and get involved in our community,” Palmer added.
Palmer and Arthurs have a close relationship. Both are life-long Brooke county residents. They started in corrections with the sheriff’s office, moved to Wellsburg PD together, then, came back to the sheriff’s office in 1993. Palmer retired from the Brooke County Sheriff’s Office in 2014 before his most recent job as head of safety and security at Bethany College. He ran unopposed for sheriff in November
“He’s a public person, and I’m a public person, and we like to mingle, and we like to be out in the public talking to people,” said Arthurs. “Going to the schools, going to the parks, going to the ballgames, and just watching kids grow up.”
Another program that will be started soon, thanks to an anonymous donor, is a K9 unit for the office. Deputy Kristen Richmond will be the K9’s handler.