(Editor’s Note: Each of the five candidates in the race for Ohio County Sheriff was asked to reply to six questions concerning the future of criminal activity and tax collection so that their answers could be published free of charge. The stories will be published based on the order the replies were received from a total of 16 candidates running for Assessor, the Board of Education, County Clerk, and County Sheriff.)
Martin Kimball, Republican candidate, Ohio County Sheriff
Martin Kimball is a cop through and through with 35 years protecting and serving with the Wheeling Police Department. He has earned more than 38 certificates in police tactics and training and currently serves as deputy chief.
A Wheeling High graduate, Kimball earned his business administration degree from West Virginia University. He is one of two GOP members on the Ohio County ballot for sheriff, and he is a strong advocate of continuing education in law enforcement. In addition to the certificates, he graduated from the DEA School at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center and has completed training courses with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well.
Kimball’s command experience includes being in charge of the Wheeling Police Department’s Operations Division, a position that includes the direction of more than 60 officers. He manages shift patrols, K-9 units, the SWAT unit, and the traffic division.
Kimball is a member of the West Virginia Chiefs of Police Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the NRA, and the Rotary Club. He is a past trustee and current member of the Fraternal Order of Police. Kimball is also the current Chairman of Trustees of Wheeling Elks Lodge #28, and he is the current District Deputy for northern West Virginia; he has been a member of the Elks for 28 years. In 2014, Kimball was named state winner of the Elks’ Veteran Support Award.
What are the main reasons you have decided to run for this position at this time?
I have dedicated most of my adult life to serving and protecting the citizens of Wheeling and Ohio County. I have been at the command level of the Wheeling Police Department for over 20 years and have been the Deputy Chief for six years. This is a great opportunity to further my efforts to serve the people as Sheriff Butler is unable to serve any longer. I love the job and look forward to continue serving the citizens. The sheriff’s department is in need of a leader that has the training and experience that I can bring to the office. I attend the same training sessions my officers go to, as well as management level courses all year long. It is necessary to stay up to date on current law enforcement issues and crime trends to effectively manage the sheriff’s office. I am the only candidate in this election that has the qualifications and police management experience needed for this job.
Do you feel the Sheriff’s Office is in need of more than 27 deputies at this time, and if so, why? If not, why not?
That is an issue that I would need to fully review after taking office. I do think the staffing at the Sheriff’s office should be increased by two to three deputies. Manpower is the most valuable resource they have, and currently there are many different demands for it that stretch the current level to it’s capacity. The Sheriff is mandated to provide security to all the different courts, provide transportation for mental hygiene patients, and have deputies left over to provide basic law enforcement protection to the citizens. At times that requires pulling other deputies from their regular assignments like road patrol, which obviously has a negative impact on their effectiveness.
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How would you attempt to decrease the amount of illegal drug activity that is taking place in all corners of Ohio County?
Any attempt to decrease the amount of illegal drug activity has to start with education and include treatment options. This is a problem that society has to solve itself with help from law enforcement. We as law enforcement cannot arrest away the problem. As long as people want to do something they will figure out a way to do it. Our job is to make it as difficult as possible for drug dealers to successfully operate and to arrest as many dealers as we can. From there the court system takes over and decides the level of punishment. If there is little or no fear of punishment then they will continue to operate again and again. Our resources, including drug task forces, must be used efficiently to maximize our efforts. We need to obtain every available grant funding possible to get extra resources. We also must work as a team with every law enforcement agency as well as work together with all of the drug abuse prevention and treatment teams. There are 7 billion people on this planet, and none of them has come up with a clear answer yet on how to solve this problem, but we have to keep trying.
Under your command, would Ohio County deputies enforce all laws within the borders of the city of Wheeling as well as throughout Ohio County? If so, how, and if not, why not?
The deputies of the Ohio County Sheriff’s office will be told that it will be a priority to spend their time and efforts protecting the areas outside the incorporated boundaries of the City of Wheeling. However they have to travel through Wheeling to conduct their duties. Should they observe a crime or witness something that requires a law enforcement response, they will be expected to address the problem. They will NOT be told to ignore something merely because it happens inside the City of Wheeling.
Sheriff Pat Butler has set records with the amount of collected taxes in the recorded history of Ohio County. How do you plan to continue that trend, and if you believe you can increase it, please explain how you would accomplish that goal?
The sheriff is mandated by the state constitution to collect all taxes. Sheriff Butler is doing a great job in collecting a very high percentage of those taxes. He has already figured it out. I will talk to Sheriff Butler for advice on how he has accomplished this and learn from him. I will also talk to other sheriffs to see what works for them. I will also examine all avenues available by law to me to ensure the highest level of collections possible.
How would you attempt to increase the percentage of taxes successfully collected from those owing taxes to Ohio County?
You will never collect 100 percent of the taxes owed. Sheriff Butler is already collecting a historically high percentage of taxes. To increase from that level will most likely involve filing even more civil litigation against people that owe these taxes. We cannot ignore them. While trying to convince those who owe taxes to pay their obligation is the first step, I will use every legal option available to me to collect the taxes owed to Ohio County.