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Ethics ruling stops police car washing arrangement in Hancock County

The West Virginia Ethics Commission has ruled that it was improper for a Hancock County commissioner to allow sheriff's deputies to use his car wash. The Hancock County Board of Commissioners was seeking an exemption to allow deputies to use a car wash owned by Commissioner Jeff Davis. The ethics commission said no.

The West Virginia Ethics Commission has ruled that it was improper for a Hancock County commissioner to allow sheriff's deputies to use his car wash.

The Hancock County Board of Commissioners was seeking an exemption to allow deputies to use a car wash owned by Commissioner Jeff Davis. The ethics commission said no.

The car wash in question was Davis' ‘Water World Car Wash’ in Chester. Hancock County Sheriff Ralph Fletcher sent a letter to the ethics commission seeking clarification on what could be allowed. The ethics ruling said any arrangement where the commissioner and county police authorities would mutually benefit is an improper arrangement.

The commission cited West Virginia code that the commissioner or the sheriff's department could have sought influence, leniency, or control through the arrangement, and that it should stop.

"And after receiving that information, I respect the ethics commission's final result, and I'm sure the sheriff will be able to circulate his men throughout the county and find a place in the Weirton area to wash the vehicles."

In the arrangement, Davis was giving a reduced rate to sheriff's deputies. He says he was giving a 40 percent discount-- charging $8 instead of $13. He says the arrangement was one of convenience to help keep the deputies in the local area on their patrol routes, so they wouldn't have to drive south to wash their vehicles. Davis also clarified a prior comment to NEWS9 about offering free car washes to the department.

"Until the complete investigation took place and a decision was made, I was willing to let the officers go ahead and wash the police cruisers there at no charge,” Davis said. “But the sheriff felt it was better that we do no transactions at all that way. So the officers have not washed their cars there for two months now."

Davis says nothing improper was going on and this was an arrangement to help the sheriff's department with their duties.

The ethics commission said it would have only granted an exemption if there was no other way for the department to wash its vehicles, or if it was an undue burden.

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