West Virginia State Police in desperate need of troopers
DUNBAR, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) —
West Virginia State Police is in need of troopers. The force is down about 50 troopers right now with more expected to retire next year.
No one has been hired in more than three years, putting staffing at a critically low level. In an effort to fill the ranks quickly an accelerated class is happening but it also limits the potential pool of candidates because they must already be with other agencies.
They're already police officers but they're testing Wednesday to join the ranks of the West Virginia State Police.
"Right now we're playing catch up, we are way behind so we're just trying to play catch up," Captain Reggie Patterson of the West Virginia State Police said.
The department has 613 troopers but has had nearly 700 in the past.
Patterson said the demand to fill the void is essential and timely.
"There is a danger to the public and the officers out there working because you don't have back up, you have people out there working overtime to cover certain shifts and that create fatigue and it creates a domino effect," Patterson said.
The group of 70 is going through what's called the "Accelerated Cadet Program." instead of the traditional 25 weeks. The officers will be state troopers in just 10 weeks.
"They have already done it and have a basic idea what a law enforcement officers needs and does," Patterson said.
It's the first time they're testing for troopers since 2014 due to funding. Patterson says it cost about $600,000 dollars for every 10 troopers trained.
Patterson says troopers do more than just help with wrecks on the interstates. "We are trained criminal investigators and our job is to solve crimes, and we do murders, burglaries, assaults, sexual assault, you name it, troopers do it."
With 20 troopers planning to retire next year, Patterson said he hopes the funding will be there in the future.
If you're interested in becoming a state trooper and have police background, there is another testing on Friday.But if you don't have any law enforcement experience, a traditional training program may become available. To see all the qualifications, visit the West Virginia State Police website.