Huntington Police looking to bolster squad

Published: Jan. 12, 2021 at 11:21 AM EST
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HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - The Huntington Police Department has several positions open and are looking to add new recruits to their team.

“You’re investing in your future and you’re investing in your home,” said police Chief Ray Cornwell. “These jobs are secure, I’ve been with the city for 25 years, I’ve come up through the ranks as a street patrolman all the way up to Chief of Police and honestly I’ve never seen the city more financially secure than it is today.”

In recent years, recruiting has proven difficult, due to national dialogue and stigma surrounding law enforcement on top of conversations about social injustice and police brutality. Cornwell says he believes less people are feeling the call to service, but the need to serve and protect is still there.

“If you’re interested in working outside, if you’re self reliant, if you have a positive attitude and you want to make a difference,” said Cornwell. “If you want to make the Huntington community a better place to be, come talk to us.”

Previously, the department would hold a hiring event once every two years and they would receive about 500 applications. In today’s climate, they’re holding events once every six months and even though roughly 300 people apply, less than half actually show up.

The city of Huntington is currently budgeted for 108 officers, but only have 90 sworn positions on staff.

The next testing event will be held on Feb. 6, and you can learn more by tapping here. The application can be done online and will only take a few minutes. Applicants must pass a physical at the testing event and then a written test will be administered. The starting salary is more than $42,000, while the average patrol office can make more than $58,000 with overtime.

Those officers that are already certified in the state of West Virginia and are hired on will receive a $20,000 sign-on bonus, for this test only, thanks to approval from Huntington Mayor Steve Williams.

“This is a wonderful place to work,” said Mike Hudson. “It’s a rewarding job, it’s a challenging job. You’re seeing different things every day. You never know, you get up, you put the uniform on, you walk out the door, you don’t know what you’re going to be seeing.”

The department is also working to add new equipment and other tools to improve officer safety as well as make their jobs more efficient.

“We continue to buy new cars,” Cornwell said. “We moved to external vest carriers, which is actually more comfortable for the officers. It’s easier on their backs. We also recently finished a purchase for all new portable radios for all of our officers and we’re transitioning to body-worn cameras.”

The Huntington Police Department is larger than some of the surrounding city agencies, and new recruits say they were enticed by the opportunity for growth and development into other departments like the detective bureau, K-9 Unit, SWAT team, marine patrol division and motorcycle officers.

A college degree is not required and those who are hired can be trained through several weeks spent at the State Police Academy.

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