The West Virginia State Police is a paramilitary organization, state law enforcement agency in the United States that provides statewide police services to the 1.83 million residents in West Virginia. It is the fourth oldest state police agency and was born in the second extraordinary session of the West Virginia Legislature on June 19, 1919 as a result of uprisings surrounding organized labor in the coal and mine industries. [1]

History

Governor John Jacob Cornwell was insistent upon having a state police force which he said, "was mandatory in order for him to uphold the laws of our state." Part of the compromise was the name of the organization: "West Virginia Department of Public Safety" was the official name until 1995 when the name was changed to "West Virginia State Police" during the legislative session.

The State Police today

Like other state law enforcement agencies, West Virginia troopers enforce traffic laws statewide, investigate crimes and protect the governor and his immediate family. The Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police is Colonel Timothy S. Pack. He was appointed in December 2008 by Governor Joe Manchin and took office on Jan. 1, 2009. He replaced Colonel Don Lemmon who is retiring.

West Virginia State Police troopers wear a forest-green uniform and campaign hat. They receive their training at the West Virginia State Police Academy located in Institute, a suburb of Charleston and near the agency's headquarters in South Charleston. Upon appointment, cadets undergo an intense training program at the academy.

The West Virginia State Police also runs its own forensic laboratory and provide scientific investigation services to law enforcement agencies across the state. Services offered to criminal justice agencies include biochemistry, drug, firearm investigations, latent prints, questioned documents, toxicology and trace evidence. The crime lab is accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB). [2]

Recruitment and training

The West Virginia Division of Criminal Justice Services is responsible for setting minimum physical ability standards for police officers working in the state. In 2007, following a national trend, it relaxed the physical ability standards for aspiring police officers. Right now, any police applicant must do at least 18 push-ups/minute, 27 sit-ups/minute and be able to run 1.5 mile in a maximum time limit of 15 minutes 20 seconds. [3] The State Police, however, chose not to follow those standards unlike many other local and county police agencies in West Virginia. The agency's recruiters still require applicants to perform at least 27 push-ups/minute, 29 sit-ups/minute and those same applicants have to run 1.5 mile in no more than 14 minutes 52 seconds, which were all the initial minimum requirements for all police departments in West Virginia. [4]

Training at the paramilitary academy lasts about 30 weeks compared to about 16 weeks for officers from other departments (trained at the same academy). When cadets graduate, they are promoted to the rank of "trooper." They can be stationned anywhere in the 55 West Virginia counties working from detachments (barracks). They serve an eighteen-month probationary period that starts at the time they enter the academy. After completing successfully that probationary period, they are eligible to receive an associate degree in police sciences through the Marshall Technical and Community College program. Cadets log in about 1420 hours of training by the time they graduate from the academy. [5]

Personnel

Like many police agencies nationwide, the shortage of sworn personnel in some counties has raised debates about the need for more funding to recruit more cadets. As of 2007, the agency employed 652 sworn officers and 349 civilian staff members. [6] Short in man power or not, the State Police is heavily relied upon to assist in some rural counties. In May 2007, the State Journal reported in an investigation that counties such as Mineral, Braxton, Wirt and Tyler depend on the state police to provide services and respond to calls from midnight up to 8 a.m. since no Sheriff deputies are available to work those shifts.

The State Police is and has been the only agency to operate a law enforcement academy in West Virginia. It trains its own troopers but also all other law enforcement officers from the state, from Sheriff deputies to city and town police officers, and from campus police officers to motor carrier enforcement officers who are not part of the State Police like in some states, but have their own separate agency.

Rank Structure

Title Insignia
Superintendent - Colonel
US-O6 insignia.svg
Lieutenant Colonel
US-O5 insignia.svg
Major
US-O4 insignia.svg
Captain
US-O3 insignia.svg
Lieutenant
US-OF1A.svg
First Sergeant
Sergeant
Corporal
Trooper First Class
Senior Trooper
Trooper

Vehicles

Most of the State Police vehicles are Ford Crown Victorias with blue and gold colors accompanied by the agency's logo on the side front doors. [7] Typical emergency lighting on a fully marked cruiser are the overheads (bar lights) and front wig wags. The agency also uses unmarked vehicles (usually assigned to command staff members statewide), Dodge Durangos, Chargers and some Chevy Impalas and Trailblazers.

Troops and detachments

Troop 1 Command - Shinnston

  • Bridgeport Detachment
  • Fairmont Detachment
  • Grafton Detachment
  • Hundred Detachment
  • Kingwood Detachment
  • Morgantown Detachment
  • Moundsville Detachment
  • New Cumberland Detachment
  • Paden City Detachment
  • Shinnston Detachment

Troop 2 Command - Charles Town

  • Berkeley Springs Detachment
  • Charles Town Detachment
  • Keyser Detachment
  • Martinsburg Detachment
  • Moorefield/Petersburg Detachment
  • Romney Detachment

Troop 3 Command - Elkins

  • Buckhannon Detachment
  • Elkins Detachment
  • pFranklin Detachment
  • Glenville Detachment
  • Marlinton Detachment
  • Parsons Detachment
  • Philippi Detachment
  • Weston Detachment

Troop 4 Command - South Charleston

  • Clay Detachment
  • Elizabeth Detachment
  • Grantsville Detachment
  • Harrisville Detachment
  • Parkersburg Detachment
  • Quincy Detachment
  • Ripley Detachment
  • South Charleston Detachment
  • Spencer Detachment
  • St Marys Detachment

Troop 5 Command - Logan

  • Gilbert Detachment
  • Hamlin Detachment
  • Huntington Detachment
  • Logan Detachment
  • Madison Detachment
  • Mason County Detachment

Troop 6 Command - Beckley

  • Beckley Detachment
  • Gauley Bridge Detachment
  • Hinton Detachment
  • Jesse Detachment
  • Lewisburg Detachment
  • Oak Hill Detachment
  • Princeton Detachment
  • Rainelle Detachment
  • Richwood Detachment
  • Summersville Detachment
  • Welch Detachment
  • Whitesville Detachment
  • Union Detachment

Troop 7 Command - Parkway Authority

  • Parkways - Beckley Detachment

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the West Virginia State Police, 38 officers have died in the line of duty according to the agency's website and the Officer Down Memorial Page. [8]

Contact Information

725 Jefferson Road
South Charleston
WV 21076
Phone: (304) 746-2100

See also

References

  1. History of the West Virginia State Police http://www.wvstatepolice.com/history/history.shtml/
  2. West Virginia State Police Crime Laboratory http://www.wvstatepolice.com/crime/crime.shtml/
  3. West Virginia Division of Criminal Justice Services: physical ability standards http://www.wvdcjs.com/lawenforcement/training/physicalability.html/
  4. West Virginia State Police physical ability standards http://www.wvstatepolice.com/employ/phyfit.pdf/
  5. West Virginia State Police employment brochure http://www.wvstatepolice.com/employ/brochure.pdf/
  6. West Virginia State Police Annual Report. http://www.wvstatepolice.com/annreport/2007annualreport.pdf/
  7. National Police Car Archives http://www.policecararchives.org/
  8. Officer Down Memorial Page: West Virginia State Police http://www.odmp.org/agency/4187-west-virginia-state-police-west-virginia/

Additional references

  • State Journal (in a May 2005 article)
  • State Trooper: America's State Troopers and Highway Patrolmen (Turner Publishing Company)

External links

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