In his first week in office, Mathews County’s new sheriff has announced some changes in his top personnel.
Maj. John T. Williams, a Mathews County native, has joined the office as Sheriff Mark Barrick’s new chief deputy. Williams brings with him over 25 years of law enforcement experience, Barrick said.
A retired detective with the Newport News Police Department, Williams "has an extensive background in uniform patrol, and in the investigations of burglary, armed robbery and homicide," Barrick said.
"Training and guidance are essential to the proper investigation of a variety of crimes and presenting such cases for prosecution," the sheriff said. "There will be two full-time investigators in the sheriff’s office, which will be enhanced by the experience I have to offer and (that of) the new chief deputy."
Sid Foster, who served as chief deputy under Barrick’s predecessor and most recently was acting sheriff after Danny Howlett stepped down from that post on Dec. 1, will remain with the sheriff’s office.
"Crime prevention will also be key in attempting to reduce the occurrence of criminal activity the community may experience," Barrick said. "Lieutenant Sid Foster will remain in the forefront of programs that are currently in place. Triad and its sponsored programs, Neighborhood Watch and Crime Watch will continue as they always have. We will seek to expand the watch programs and look at ways to improve upon these as we seek more participation from interested citizens."
Looking to the year ahead, Barrick said he is excited about developing a partnership with Tom Bowen, the newly elected Commonwealth’s attorney.
"I anticipate a great working relationship with the new Commonwealth’s attorney, who has stated to me he is more than willing to take an active role in assisting this office with guidance and advice," Barrick said. "We will work together to develop strong cases in seeking a positive outcome in prosecutions."
One of the top priorities Barrick identified in his campaign is stepped-up enforcement of narcotics. "An aggressive attitude toward the interdiction of narcotics will directly impact other reported crimes normally associated with drugs," he said. "A new relationship with the Tri-Rivers Drug Task Force is already in progress and a higher level of accountability will be maintained as I directly oversee the officer assigned from this office."
Finances will be a major concern for Barrick in the coming months as the county’s budget is developed.
"As I look at the current budget and begin to prepare for the new fiscal year, the money situation around the state is as unsettling as it has been in the past," he said. "The cost of fuel is expected to rise again, the cost of equipment, and the everyday costs of doing business will only increase.
"Not lost is the fact that we all have had to sacrifice in these economic times," he continued, "the fact that personnel in this office have not seen a pay raise in several years is a great concern of mine. Sheriffs around the state all have the same concern, and with the efforts of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association—of which this office is a member—this issue will be addressed."
Beginning this month, Barrick said, the installation of the new E-911 communications system will proceed as scheduled with all related site work, training of staff and a completion date projected for mid-February.