WSAZ Investigates | Shake-up at State Police Headquarters
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Two majors in the West Virginia State Police were removed from their appointed positions and brought back to the rank of lieutenant with new assignments.
The order comes from the new, interim head of State Police Col. Jack Chambers, as he investigates allegations of wrongdoing by high-ranking members of the agency. Those accusations were made in anonymous letters sent to state officials last month.
WSAZ NewsChannel 3′s Curtis Johnson asked Gov. Jim Justice about the changes at the top Tuesday.
The governor followed up during his press briefing Wednesday.
“Curtis, you know, at WSAZ, I think asked me some questions yesterday, and I told him I needed to get some more information and everything,” Justice said Wednesday. “But I think I can tell you now, that we have, we have basically taken two folks that were appointed, in appointed positions and we moved them back to their permanent rank of lieutenant.”
The new head of State Police, Chambers, also part of the briefing -- later confirmed the names of those returned to a lower rank as Shallon Oglesby and James Findley.
Findley, interviewed in 2017 by WSAZ, had been serving as head of professional standards. That made him the top investigator into instances of wrongdoing by State Police troopers.
The special order, obtained by WSAZ, now transfers Findley to the Turnpike.
As for Oglesby, who Johnson interviewed last year was chief of staff. The same order transfers her to a procurement post at headquarters.
While both Oglesby and Findley are named in one of the anonymous letters, the order makes no mention of the anonymous letter and it does not specify a reason for the changes.
So Johnson took that question to the new superintendent.
“Is there any relationship to the letter and their demotions or changes in rank?” Johnson asked after Wednesday’s briefing.
“That’s strictly up to the superintendent,” Chambers replied. “He has the authority in the appointed positions to move them back to their permanent rank -- non-disciplinary, back to their permanent rank.”
Oglesby’s replacement has been named -- Major Jim Mitchell. WSAZ interviewed him in 2011, following his remarks as State Police chaplain at a memorial for the UBB mine tragedy.
Chambers said he has not decided on a replacement for Findley.
Johnson reached out to both Oglesby and Findley. Oglesby didn’t return his call, and Findley did not respond to his email.
Among the other issues the governor has asked Chambers to investigate, is what he refers to as a loss of life incident on Interstate 81 in the Eastern Panhandle.
Wednesday, Johnson asked the governor for the video.
“Elsewhere in the nation, law enforcement organizations will release that video within 24 hours,” Johnson said to Justice. “I’m wanting to ask you, governor, will you direct your agencies that body cam footage? And, if not, why?”
“I did not watch the end of the tape, because I had already seen enough that it was, to me, really concerning,” Justice replied. “At this time, I’m being told that the prosecutor has told us that we cannot release this tape at this time. I’ll promise you that it will be released at some point and time when the prosecutor tells us to move forward.”
Another allegation of wrongdoing involves surveillance video, which shows a person, the governor has identified as a state trooper stealing money from a man at a casino in Cross Lanes. The governor’s office confirms that state trooper was allowed to retire by the former head of state police.
On Wednesday, Justice gave an update on where that investigation stands.
“The casino investigation is ongoing and it’s active, and I think that we’re going to be at a conclusion of that pretty daggum soon,” Justice said.
WSAZ also confirmed Wednesday evening another state agency is investigating the West Virginia State Police.
The West Virginia Auditor’s Office says it is looking into the agency’s financials at the request of the state Department of Homeland Security and the Governor’s Office. This, after one of those anonymous letters made claims of a wide range of financial issues including falsified overtime and a ghost account used for purchases.
Justice also announced State Police has started another investigation into allegations of hidden camera system placed in a women’s locker room at the State Police Academy in Institute.
The head of State Police also told us about a rape investigation. No details have been released except the investigation is being handled by the FBI.
Keep checking the WSAZ app for the latest.
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