PARKERSBURG - Wood County Sheriff Jeff Sandy said a 22-page, full-color annual report produced by his office is routine and was not politically motivated.
"I've done this report ever since I've been in office. This is the fourth one. All major agencies do these reports. It was not mailed out," Sandy said. The report is available online at the county's website at www.woodcountywv.com under the sheriff's department. Last year's report is also available online.
The booklet cost $2,450 and was printed by Chapman Printing Co., according to a check dated Sept. 13 that is part of county finance records. The funds to pay for the report were taken out of the sheriff's Concealed Weapons Fund.
By code, funds deposited in the sheriff's concealed weapon license administration fund "are to be expended by the sheriff to pay for the costs associated with issuing concealed weapons licenses. Any surplus in the fund on hand at the end of each fiscal year may be expended for other law enforcement purposes or operating needs of the sheriff's office, as the sheriff may consider appropriate."
Greg Smith, chairman of the Wood County Republican Executive Committee, questioned the timing of the release of the sheriff's annual report.
"I guess I just wonder if they've done this in the past; have past sheriffs done these reports and to this extent? The timing just seems a bit odd, coming right before the election, and it's not cheap to print, and it's my understanding some were mailed out so there's the postage costs as well," Smith said.
"Have the other county officials done this? I've never seen any of the other elected officials do anything quite this prolific weeks before the election. I guess it's the power of the incumbency. They can do that kind of stuff. You just have to face the music if it goes overboard. Couldn't it just be black-and-white copies and provide the information?" Smith said.
"I'm sure there's nothing illegal about it," Smith said. "He's been an active sheriff, but in a political season, some of those questions probably need to be answered. Is he informing citizens or campaigning?" Smith said, noting Sandy's photo appears repeatedly in the booklet.
Sandy said the first year he issued the report it was more of a "status" report for the department, then in later years it became more formalized.
"Usually we photocopied it, but with the cost of paper and printing ink, we found it was actually cheaper to do it this way," Sandy said.
The sheriff said a number of individuals have told him they weren't aware of some of the programs listed in the booklet, and he views it as an educational/informational tool as well. Sandy said he feels it's an appropriate use of the Concealed Weapons Fund.
"It's important for the public to know what the office is doing with their money, and surplus military equipment and to recognize the employees for their good work. It's not about Jeff Sandy talking about himself, it's the directors talking about their departments," Sandy said. "We presented copies to the county commission, made it available online, to anyone who requested a copy and in the entry to the justice center." Sandy presented the report to the commissioners at an August meeting.