CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — The concealed weapons fund can be a substantial moneymaker for some sheriff's departments, depending on the population of the county.
The cost to obtain a concealed weapons permit is $105, which is good for five years. The sheriff's department receives $60 of that. The remainder is split as follows: $5 for the card that is issued; $25 to the State Police; and $15 to Courthouse Security Fund.
Harrison County Sheriff Albert Marano said applications have been leveling off the past couple of years.
"At the beginning of my second term in 2012, there was a dramatic increase in applications. There was a fear among the public of losing their gun rights. We had 300 apply a month for about six months that year," Marano said. "Now we do about 125-130 a month."
The Harrison County fund received $79,550 in fiscal year 2012. In 2013, it jumped to $157,245 and for 2014, it was $95,575. The fiscal year is from July 1 to June 30.
By statute, the money can be used for items that benefit the department as a whole, not individually.
"Over the past several years, we've used it for the law enforcement safety fair at Clarksburg City Park," Marano said. "We also supplement equipment on the new cruisers and are currently saving up money to purchase large pieces of equipment that are expensive but critical to the safety of the public and law enforcement."
Recent upgrades have included new light bars and new striping packages to make cruisers more visible, upgraded consoles and updated cages between front and back seats for safety when transporting prisoners, he said.
Doddridge County Sheriff Michael Headley has only been in office 18 months but has been able to purchase new handguns for the six deputies and himself with money from the concealed weapons fund.
"That has been my only purchase so far. From Jan. 1 to July 15, the department has received $9,100. The total collected last year was $27,500," Headley said.
Taylor County Sheriff Terring Skinner said the fund is utilized for a number of things. He did not have access to the records at the time, but said there was currently $35,000 in the account.
"(Last week) the department was appointed executor of an estate. I wrote a check to cover all of the fees that were required to become an executor. Ultimately the estate will reimburse the fund or we will be reimbursed by the county," Skinner said. "We have bought ballistic vests, equipment for the officers, radio equipment for the vehicles and to mark the vehicles and outfit them with the electronics they need."
He is currently looking at purchasing hand-held radios for the deputies.
"I'll certainly try to approach the commission about matching funds for that purchase if possible," Skinner said. "Mostly, we try to put the money back into the department for educational materials. We try to benefit the community as much as we can, as well as officer protection."
Information from: The Exponent Telegram, http://www.theet.com