Trooper numbers reaching critical levels, officials warn

October 07, 2005|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Faced with the possibility of seeing the number of state police troopers in Jefferson County dwindle to the lowest level in 10 years, county officials decided Thursday to ask Gov. Joe Manchin for help.

West Virginia State Police once had 14 troopers in Jefferson County, but now have nine, State Police Sgt. E.D. Anderson said.

One of the nine troopers recently announced his intention to leave the department, and three others are taking tests for other jobs, Anderson said.


If the three testing for new jobs leave the state police detachment, that would leave the barrack with five troopers - the lowest number of troopers working there in 10 years, Anderson said.

The Jefferson County Commission voted Thursday to draft a resolution calling for Manchin to find ways to increase the number of troopers stationed in the county.

Commission member Dale Manuel said it creates a serious situation, given the crime problems in the county.

They range from car vandalism on Jefferson Avenue in the Charles Town area to burglaries on the Blue Ridge Mountain east of town, Manuel and Anderson said.

"It's become a real critical situation," Manuel said.

County Commission President Rusty Morgan said there seems to be no process for adding troopers to the county based on population increases. There are national standards for how many police officers a community should have and "we're not close to that," Morgan said.

Morgan said he would like the state police to come up with a long-term plan on how they hope to serve the county as the population increases.

Besides asking for more troopers, commission members agreed to ask the state to develop a policy on how they plan to staff the state police office in coming years.

Anderson said the shortage of troopers makes it difficult to fully staff shifts and it is tough to get troopers from other areas because the trooper shortage is statewide.

Much of the shortage can be attributed to low salaries, Anderson said.

If the local detachment does drop to five troopers, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department might have to cover all the midnight shifts, Chief Deputy Jesse Jones said.

The state police and the sheriff's department now split midnight shift duties, Jones said.

If the sheriff's department takes on more midnight shifts, that will make it harder for the sheriff's department to perform other duties, including court security, Jones said.

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