W.Va. State Police Change Training Requirements for New Troopers

By: Jennifer Rizzi Email
By: Jennifer Rizzi Email

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- In a world where so many are looking for jobs, West Virginia State Police say it's tough finding people to do theirs.

"We continually recruit at schools, colleges, and career fairs," Lt. Reginald Patterson said.

In an effort to beef up their ranks, they're making it easier to join. Now, county and city police officers can trade in their uniforms for a green one without as much work.

Instead of spending 25 weeks in preparation at the State Police Academy, now they'll only have to train for about 11 weeks.

Patterson says existing officers have already been through the academy prior to their current job.

"We have trained these individuals previously, so therefore we've created an abbreviated program to put them through some things to become troopers," Patterson said.

But smaller departments fear the new recruiting rules will leave them short-staffed.

"State Police have always been a candidate for taking our new recruits," said Dunbar Police Chief Earl E. Whittington. "Now with the accelerated program, it's going to be challenging."

Whittington says it's already hard retaining his officers with limited resources and lots of competition.

"It's very financially taxing on the city," he said. "There are fees to send an officer to the academy, and then another department steps in and takes them. You feel like you've lost all that money."

State Police hope to hire about 100 new troopers in the next year.

The new system also gives recruits more of a say in where they are stationed.

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