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W. Va. State say they'll back on midnight shifts

October 29, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Because of West Virginia State Police trooper shortage across the state, there may be times between midnight and 8 a.m. when a trooper will not be on patrol in Berkeley County, a state police official said Monday.

If a trooper is not patrolling, that does not mean an officer is not available, said Sgt. Deke Walker.

A trooper will be on call during that period, meaning he can respond to an emergency if necessary, Walker said.

Walker said it is hard to determine how much time would be devoted to patrols during the midnight to 8 a.m. shift in Berkeley County.

The situation is likely to change often due to personnel levels, said Walker, adding that the midnight to 8 a.m. shift is not being eliminated.

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In Jefferson County, a trooper or a Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy will always be patrolling during the midnight to 8 a.m. shift, Walker said.

About a year ago, there were 702 troopers in the state but that number has dropped to 570.

Berkeley County has had up to 24 troopers in past years but is down to 15. Jefferson County was up to 15 troopers but now has 12, state police officials said.

The state police force is losing troopers locally and statewide due to a number of factors including pay, injuries on the job and attrition, said Walker and West Virginia Secretary of Military Affairs and Public Safety Joe Martin.

The state is preparing to start two new trooper classes in January, but it is too early to determine where those new officers will be stationed, Martin said during a recent visit to Jefferson County.

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