Clarke County Sheriff Tony Roper assured County Supervisors today that Locke’s Landing is still a safe recreational destination for County residents despite a Sunday night shooting that sent a 19-year-old man to Winchester Medical Center with gunshot wounds to the leg. Roper also told the Supervisors that budget challenges have left the County without a Clarke County deputy on duty twice in the last month.
Roper said that the Sunday shooting that may have occurred at the popular boat launching spot was a not a random act of violence as some community members have feared.
“Right now it appears to have been a dispute that occurred between two people who knew each other,” Roper told Byrd. “Locke’s Landing is still a safe place.”
“The young man delivered himself to Winchester Medical Center and said that he had been shot at Locke’s Landing,” Roper added. “That may or may not be true and we are still investigating the incident.”
With County Sheriff manpower levels now back to normal levels, Roper told the Supervisors that twice in the last month there have been periods when no Clarke County Sheriff Deputy has been duty. Roper has said in recent budget discussions that when such manpower shortages have occurred in the past, both he and the chief deputy are placed on call for response if needed.
“We had two deputies who left our department and we were required to cover the cost of their accumulated leave time,” Roper explained to the Supervisors. “Budget constraints prevented us from using additional patrol deputies to fill in during those times. Arrests and citations did go down during that period but not dramatically.”
Roper said that the manpower shortages have now been addressed and he doesn’t expect additional deputy-less patrol shifts in the foreseeable future. Roper added that the County is currently benefiting from additional Virginia State Police patrols but could not predict when the troopers might be assigned to other localities.
“I agree, it’s nice while we have them,” Roper said to Supervisor Byrd who raised the topic.
While Roper and his law enforcement team still rely on traditional techniques like patrols and fingerprints to catch Clarke County crooks, sometimes a little technology can go a long way toward increasing public safety. Roper told the Supervisors of one recent unsuspecting County criminal who became a victim of the technology that he was trying to steal.
“The thief stole a laptop computer but thanks to a program that the owner installed on the computer, the computer sent us a picture of the thief and then told us where he was.”
Roper said that the thief turned out to be in Texas with the stolen laptop.
“Thankfully he was willing to come back on his own,” Roper said. “There was no taxpayer expense necessary to go and get him.”