Augusta County Sheriff’s Office navigates through changes in law enforcement policies happening across the state

Augusta County Sheriff’s Office navigates through changes in law enforcement policies happening across the state
Augusta County Sheriff's Office in Verona. (Source: WVIR)

AUGUSTA COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) — An Augusta County sheriff’s deputy was placed on administrative leave after accidentally discharging his gun while responding to a call in February.

No one was injured, but the sheriff’s office says they take these situations very seriously.

The sheriff’s office reviews every incident where any type of force is used by deputies to make sure they are in compliance with their policies. If they are not in compliance, the sheriff’s office takes disciplinary actions, conducts investigations or puts individuals through more training.

In this situation, the deputy is going through several extensive trainings to make sure mistakes like these don’t happen again.

Law enforcement policies across the Commonwealth are under constant review, and the special session has led to many changes.

“Some of the law changes that have come out changed the way that we do business all the way around,” Sheriff Smith said. “We’re just going to have to navigate through it, but we are committed to keeping the community safe and enforcing the law within the bounds of the law.”

He said one of the biggest changes is being limited on executing search warrants at night.

Sheriff Smith said he’s been in more meetings about law enforcement policies in the past year than ever before, and while he says some of these changes make their jobs harder, they are committed to serving and protecting the community.

He added that it’s important for citizens to comply with law enforcement, so situations do not escalate.

“We’re not profiling people, we’re arresting people because we have a legal document that commands us to arrest them, and when we go out there, 95% of the time, we have no problems,” Sheriff Smith said. “But if you do wrong and you try to get away from us, we’re going to come after you. That’s our job. Our job is to protect the community, and we take it very seriously.”

The sheriff’s office says they are always looking for ways to improve.

“Our agency is very blessed to live in an area where the community supports our law enforcement, and I can assure you, I, as the Sheriff and representing these deputies, we don’t take it for granted,” Sheriff Smith said.

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