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Bill to increase W.Va. State Police force introduced in state Legislature

February 16, 2013

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — For at least the fourth consecutive year, legislation to increase the number of West Virginia State Police troopers to a minimum of 800 statewide has been introduced in the state Legislature.

State Sen. John R. Unger II, D-Berkeley/Jefferson, who again is the lead sponsor of the legislation this year, said Friday the agency is budgeted to have 698 troopers, but currently has 33 vacancies.

“We are anticipating approximately 10 to 15 more retirements by the end of 2013,” Unger said.

The bill also proposes a salary adjustment.

Unger, who is Senate majority leader, said there is no set criteria for placing troopers across the state, but it generally is based on operational need as determined by the superintendent. 

There were 32 West Virginia State Police troopers assigned to the Martinsburg (Berkeley County) detachment as of Thursday, State Police Capt. R.A. Blair said. That number includes five supervisors, 23 field troopers, a K-9 officer, two crimes against children investigators and a bomb technician.

Blair, who is commander of Troop 2, said there were six troopers assigned to the agency’s Bureau of Criminal Investigations, which primarily investigates drug and violent crime across Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

There are 16 troopers assigned to the Charles Town (Jefferson County) detachment, but two currently are on active military duty, and five troopers are assigned to Berkeley Springs (Morgan County), Blair said.

Consecutive attempts since 2010 by state lawmakers to pass legislation to increase the minimum number of troopers statewide have failed, according to the Legislature’s reference and information office.

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— Matthew Umstead

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