When Mineral County Sheriff Forrest W. “Buddy” Ellifritz began his law enforcement career as a Keyser Police officer in 1986, he was one of seven officers who made up the department.

“And, at that time, there were only four deputies in the sheriff’s office when Gary White was the sheriff. He began building the department back then, something that has continued most recently under Sheriff Jeremy Taylor,” said Ellifritz, who was elected in November.

Now, Ellifritz is responsible for county law enforcement, operation of the county’s tax office as the county treasurer and oversight of prevention resource officers in Mineral County Schools.

In addition, the sheriff is also responsible for courthouse security and service of court-issued process documents.

There are 15 deputies in the department performing 24-hour road patrols and executing their police duties throughout the county.

Another deputy is assigned to the Potomac Highlands Safe Streets Task Force.

Five employees are assigned to the tax office and there is one civil process server in the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff’s office has an annual operating budget of $1.2 million but the number could increase if the sheriff has his way.

Ellifritz said he’d like to hire two more officers and create an investigation division that would take some of the workload off of patrol deputies.

“I would place a couple of our more experienced deputies in an investigative division to conduct felony investigations under the direction of Lt. Chris Leatherman,” Ellifritz said.

Ellifritz is pleased with his police force. He worked with several of them previously, including Leatherman, Capt. J.J. Wingler, Lt. Mark Leatherman and Sgt. Roger Reall, who comprise the sheriff’s command staff.

“I have a great group of people working for me,” said Ellifritz, who served as the prevention resource officer at Keyser High School for the past nine years prior to winning his first elected office.

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