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Officials spar over cop's hiring

February 22, 2002

Officials spar over cop's hiring



By DAVE McMILLION
charlestown@herald-mail.com


Jefferson County Commission President James K. Ruland accused officials with the Charles Town Police Department of recruiting an officer from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department after the sheriff's department had spent more than $1,000 training the officer.

Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge and two other city police officers went to graduation ceremonies at the West Virginia State Police Academy last December where Deputy Ronald E. Kerns was graduating even though they did not have anyone graduating from the academy, Ruland said.

Ruland said Aldridge and the two officers went there to recruit Kerns, although Aldridge disputes it.

Ruland and sheriff's department officials are upset over the money they spent to train Kerns, only to have him leave the department after graduation from the academy.

The sheriff's department not only had to pay $1,000 for tuition, but paid $350 for a physical for Kerns, not to mention his salary and benefits and uniform costs, said Jesse Jones, chief deputy with the sheriff's department.

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Ruland said county officials plan to send Kerns a letter in an attempt to recoup some of the county's costs. Ruland said he thinks Charles Town city officials should be contacted about the matter, too.

"It's a behavior pattern that I would not like to see repeated. I think the light of day needs to shine on all of this," Ruland said during the commissioners meeting Thursday.

Commissioner James G. Knode said he has no problem with a police department advertising a position, but it's "quite another to have someone followed around."

Aldridge disputed Ruland's claims.

"He doesn't know what he's talking about," Aldridge said when contacted after the meeting.

Kerns applied to the Charles Town Police Department just before he graduated from the academy, said Aldridge.

Aldridge said he told Sheriff Everett "Ed" Boober about Kerns' application to his department. Sheriff's department officials became angry and decided not to go to Kern's graduation, said Aldridge.

Aldridge said he felt Kerns needed support so he, Doug Nichols and Richard Jenkins, two other officers with the department, traveled to the academy in Charleston, W.Va., to give Kerns support.

Aldridge said he could not have hired Kerns in Charleston because Kerns had not yet taken his Civil Service test.

"I did not recruit him," said Aldridge.

Boober said he did not want to say much about the situation because he has to work with Aldridge. But the sheriff said the situation "obviously creates hard feelings. It obviously creates a void in the department."

Kerns said in a telephone interview Thursday that Aldridge did not make any offers to him. Kerns said he wanted to work for the city police department because he felt it was a more professional department.

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