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26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger swears in former magistrate Mike Coffman as chief deputy for the Upshur County Sheriff's Department. / Photo courtesy Mike Coffman

Coffman moves from magistrate to Upshur County sheriff’s chief deputy

BUCKHANNON – Former magistrate Mike Coffman was sworn in as chief deputy of law enforcement for the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department Thursday.

The appointment was approved during the Jan. 7 Upshur County Commission meeting at 9:30 a.m., and he was sworn in at 10:15 a.m., with his appointment going into effect that day.

Although he’s served several consecutive terms as an Upshur County magistrate, Coffman is no stranger to the law enforcement badge. This won’t be his first time working for Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller, either.

“I started when I was 19 years old, here working for Sheriff Miller, and then at 21 I got hired over in Lewis county and then I was back here in 2005 as chief deputy, and I think when law enforcement gets in your blood, it’s usually always there, and I missed it,” Coffman said. “My family situation has also changed since I become magistrate 12 years ago. Then, my son was very small – he was five years old, and my daughter wasn’t in the picture, and they are now 17 and 11, and they are in sports and I’m missing that stuff because of being on call every other weekend.”

“I think for my family life, this position will be better for that,” Coffman added.

Coffman was previously sworn in as magistrate Dec. 30 and now 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judges Jacob Reger and Kurt Hall are looking to fill that now-vacant position.

“I think that’s something the circuit judges are working on,” Coffman said. “I think they’ve received some resumes. I think it’s been circulated by word of mouth that I was, stepping down, so I think received some resumes and I believe they’ve done some interviews,” Coffman said. “I think you’ll see an appointment coming very soon. This has been something that I’ve tried to work with the judges and everybody on, so it wouldn’t be an abrupt departure.”

Sheriff Virgil Miller said he asked Coffman to come back to the sheriff’s office because he has ideal qualifications and they have worked together in the past. In addition, two senior officers, Capt. Mark Davis and Chief Deputy Mike Kelley, both retired at the end of 2020.

Miller requests that Coffman be hired at Thursday’s commission meeting.

“When Mark and Mike left, I wanted to have an experienced chief deputy because the law enforcement part is going to be his to run. I have other things I have to do, and I need to have somebody here who I know is going to carry out how I feel the department should be running,” Miller said. “That goes hand in hand with the fact we’re writing a new policy and procedure manual for the deputies we’re going to implement before too long, and we’re changing several other things.”

Miller said he’s looking forward to the work ahead for the sheriff’s office, including training new officers.

Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller and newly sworn-in chief deputy Mike Coffman pose for a photo opp Thursday afternoon.

“I think we’ve got a good mix; we’ve got some older officers and then we have some young guys,” Miller said. “I think our biggest handicap right now is the fact we have one new deputy who has to go to the academy and the [state police academy] is a whole nightmare in itself right now. We’re going to have to work with Civil Service Commission to get another deputy on board, but that’s going to be a challenge here.”

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