Official concerned with trooper numbers in Berkeley County

February 14, 2005|by DAVE McMILLION

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The president of the Berkeley County Commission said he is concerned about Berkeley County having enough state police troopers and added that a letter will be sent to Gov. Joe Manchin regarding concerns over police protection in the county.

Commissioner Steve Teufel said the number of troopers assigned to Berkeley County has not changed much since 1980.

"I haven't seen the numbers do what they should have done in the last three or four years," Teufel said during the commissioners' regular meeting last Thursday.

Although West Virginia State Police Sgt. C.C. Morton said he is not sure whether trooper numbers in Berkeley County have gone basically unchanged since 1980, they have been about the same since 1996, Morton said.


Morton declined to say how many troopers he believes should be stationed in Berkeley County. But he added that if 10 more troopers were added in Berkeley County, they easily could be put to work.

Twenty-one troopers work in Berkeley County, and the local barrack on Edwin Miller Boulevard will be getting two newly trained troopers, Morton said.

The two new troopers will not be allowed to patrol on their own for 14 weeks, Morton said.

Morton, who discussed the issue with commissioners on Thursday, said one of the reasons it is tough to keep troopers in the county is the cost of living in Berkeley County.

A trooper working in Berkeley County makes the same salary as a trooper with identical rank in far western sections of the state, where the cost of living is much lower, Morton said.

As a result, many troopers either leave the state police or ask to be transferred to another part of the state where the cost of living is cheaper, Morton said.

"It's kind of hard to maintain our numbers," Morton told the commissioners.

Commissioner Howard Strauss asked Morton if the state police support salary differentials for troopers in areas like Berkeley County.

Morton said he would advocate differential pay. Differential pay, also referred to as regional pay, is paying state employees at a higher rate in fast-growing areas to help them deal with higher costs of living.

Two years ago, police agencies in Berkeley and Jefferson counties said they could not devote the time they needed to solve cases like theft, vandalism or burglary because they did not have enough officers or because they were too busy with other duties such as court security.

At that time, there were 14 troopers in Berkeley County.

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