IW sheriff shakes up office

Published 9:16 pm Monday, January 2, 2012

By Dale Liesch
The Tidewater News

Two thirds of those deputies who applied to be re-hired to work under the new sheriff’s administration in Isle of Wight County were rehired.

Sheriff Mark Marshall, who took over duties in the Sheriff’s Department Sunday, after having won election over former Sheriff Charlie Phelps in November, reappointed 25 deputies out of 37 from the outgoing Phelps administration.

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Marshall would not say why 12 applicants from Phelps’ administration were not reappointed, calling it a personnel issue.

Phelps’ administration and his re-election campaign were rocked by a controversy over criminal charges brought against his son, Capt. Paul Phelps for allowing four-time felon Jonathan Burns to wear a uniform and badge while volunteering for the sheriff’s department.

Paul Phelps finally pleaded guilty to that charge, agreeing not to work in law enforcement again, in December. The Virginia Attorney General’s office had filed charges against Phelps in May.

All applicants were subject to a background check performed by retired law enforcement officials, Marshall said, adding the deputies who were reappointed took lie-detector tests, as well.

The department has 42 deputies, and Marshall said he is looking to hire nine more.

“Of the 12 deputies that weren’t reappointed, three were part-time positions,” Marshall said. “The money for those positions will be used to recruit other deputies. I suspect we will be advertising shortly.”

He said deputies are paid $34,000 to $37,000 annually.

“There are several employees who’ve been here for several years who make the minimum,” Marshall said. “There have been no increases in pay in several years.”

While filling the nine open positions is a challenge at the start of his administration, Marshall said, an aging fleet of patrol cars is another.

“The fleet is rapidly moving into bad shape,” Marshall said. “It becomes a public-safety issue, because you can’t answer calls from the back of a tow truck.”

Deputies reappointed and new employees sworn in last month were Robert Barlow, Steven Borst, Donnie Brown, Ronald Bryan, James Clarke, Joshua Dixon, Anthony Edwards, William Fordham, Richard Gaddis, Randy Gardner, John Gilliam, William Gingras, Kimberly Gradine, Patricia Gwaltney, Anthony Hall, Joseph Hopko, Kimberly Leazer, Susan Morgan, Earvin Myers, Randy Patrick, Jimi Phillips, Timothy Phipps, Thomas Potter, James D. Pope, James W. Pope, James Stephenson, Jeffery Storm, Michael Tuck, Matthew Van Wassen and Joseph Willard.