NEW CUMBERLAND-One of Hancock County's longest-serving lawmen is retiring, adding to the changes already under way at the Hancock County Sheriff's Department.
Chief Deputy Todd Murray, Sheriff Mike White's right-hand man for eight years, said his retirement will be effective Monday. "It's bittersweet when you're a law officer," he said, "but there is life after law enforcement. You have to make that transition. Now's my time."
Murray, 52, of Chester, said he's been contemplating retirement for awhile but was awaiting word from incoming Sheriff Ralph Fletcher whether he would be retained as chief deputy or asked to serve in another capacity. Fletcher, elected Nov. 6 to succeed White as sheriff, has been interviewing candidates for the chief deputy position and is expected to announce his choice next week.
Murray also was awaiting approval from Hancock County commissioners of his request for payment for 30 accrued vacation days and 285 days of accrued sick leave. Commissioners approved his request on Wednesday, meaning he will receive $58,665.60 in compensation for the unused days.
Commissioners also approved a request by Fletcher to be paid $1,800 for vacation days accrued while working for the Hancock County Prosecutor's Office, Commissioner Jeff Davis said.
Murray's request had been tabled from the Dec. 20 commissioners' meeting because there was a question about which sick leave policy he was hired under.
Murray came to the sheriff's department from the private sector, starting as a deputy in 1993 under Sheriff Warren Watkins. He also served under Sheriff Jeff Woofter and Sheriff White, who hired him as chief deputy in 2004.
Along the way, Murray worked as a sheriff's detective, an officer on the Hancock-Brooke-Weirton Drug Task Force and a deputized Drug Enforcement Administration agent.
"I've enjoyed my time here under the sheriffs I've worked for," he said. "I've enjoyed serving the citizens of Hancock County. Sheriff White and I always worked toward maintaining a safe community."
White is leaving the sheriff's department on Tuesday to become the newest Hancock County magistrate-an office to which he was elected on Nov. 6. White was ineligible to run for re-election because of term limits in West Virginia.
In addition to law enforcement, Murray has been active with the Chester Volunteer Fire Department, where he currently serves as assistant chief to Chief John Hissam. Murray has been with the fire department since 1980.
"I still will be involved with the community," he said.
Murray can retire now that his age and years of service add up to or exceed the number 70, as is required by West Virginia law.