RANDOLPH COUNTY — Confiscated drug money will go toward funding several projects to upgrade the Randolph County Sheriff’s Office after the Randolph County Board of Commissioners approved the use of monies Monday.

Justin Brubaker, business manager with Randolph County Sheriff’s Office, addressed commissioners at the regular April meeting of the board. He laid out a series of items that will be purchased through the use of drug forfeiture funds.

“You all know how difficult a year it has been for Randolph County citizens, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic,” Brubaker said. “A growing concern for our department is the extensive [number of] callouts we had, as far as our ERT (Emergency Response Team) unit.”

Brubaker noted an average annual increase of 42% in calls directed to ERT over the last five years. Back in 2015, only four calls for the ERT were reported. In 2019, 25 calls were reported, according to Brubaker. In 2020, 39 instances were reported.

“We’re seeing a drastic trend,” Brubaker said. “Obviously, COVID-19 and civil unrest has not helped that. We’re here today to request an additional purchase of less lethal ammunition, as well as equipment.”

The total cost of purchasing ammunition and equipment is estimated at $28,932. His request, Brubaker said, comes as scrutiny of the use of force by law enforcement officers is at the forefront of public discussion.

He stated that the need for less lethal ammunition is part of a growing trend nationally and regionally for law enforcement agencies to implement a more careful response to emergencies in hopes of minimizing the number of lives lost.

“Overall, our purpose is to potentially justify saving someone’s life as opposed to taking someone’s life,” Brubaker said. “We feel like this is a justifiable means of purchasing this equipment and munitions to assist us further.”

When asked about potential improvements to the Randolph County Detention Center, Brubaker said it was not feasible to address the detention center this fiscal year. He added that the sheriff’s office would not be looking to request taxpayer dollars to go toward the jail, because that would not be good stewardship, Brubaker concluded.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.

Staff writer Daniel Kennedy can be reached at 336-888-3578, or at dkennedy@atnonline.net.