Art Watson named new chief deputy

NEW CUMBERLAND – Hancock County Chief Deputy Art Watson has been in this position before.

A 29-year veteran of law enforcement, Watson, 53, of New Cumberland, has served as a chief deputy in Wetzel and Marshall counties. Now, after 11 years with the Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, he’s Sheriff Ralph Fletcher’s choice for chief deputy of Hancock County.

Watson’s selection was announced at Thursday’s Hancock County Commission meeting, where he was lauded for his service to the department and the county.

“I’m quite pleased by my choice,” Fletcher told commissioners. “Chief Watson will be an asset to my administration, and I have tremendous confidence in him.”

Watson, who succeeds the recently retired Chief Deputy Todd Murray, said he wants to focus on having a greater police presence in the community, training for deputies, and funding for children’s programs.

“The biggest thing is our children,” Watson said.

Watson comes to the office of chief deputy with years of experience as the sheriff’s department’s chief investigator of major crimes. Recognized as a crime scene and fingerprint expert, Watson was named West Virginia Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for 2012 by the West Virginia Veterans of Foreign Wars.

As chief deputy, Watson will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the sheriff’s department. Watson said he also sees himself as a liaison between the deputies and the sheriff.

Fletcher, who took office on Tuesday, succeeding former Sheriff Mike White, said he chose Watson because “his outlook on law enforcement is similar to my own. For our office, I believe Art Watson is just a good fit.”

He also cited Watson’s background in law enforcement and knowledge of the job.

Fletcher said he learned something from all the people he interviewed for the chief deputy job.

“I was able to take away from all the interviews a good bit of information that will help us improve the department,” he said.

Also Thursday, commissioners welcomed Fletcher as the new sheriff. The 60-year-old Weirton resident was elected Nov. 6 to succeed White, who was prevented by state law from seeking a third term.

“I’m looking forward to serving the community and putting my stamp on what I already believe to be a fine department,” Fletcher told commissioners.

In a related matter, commissioners approved Fletcher’s office staff recommendations. They are Linda Jones as administrative assistant, Angelina Dickson as receptionist/secretary and Beth Vaughan as records clerk.