(03/01/2002)
A federal probe will be requested to investigate the West Virginia State Police, according to a floor speech delivered by Delegate Larry Faircloth (R-Berkley). Faircloth said he is going to ask the federal Department of Justice to investigate the State Police and the law firm of Steptoe and Johnson.

Steptoe and Johnson is the target of a lawsuit by Attorney General Darrell McGraw, which alleges numerous improprieties in the handling of the Fred Zain case, a former State Police chemist who has been in court for several years over mishandling evidence. The State Police lab has come under fire more recently, with an employee being sent to prison.

Delegate Faircloth referred to various allegations of abuse by troopers and a separate allegation that a lawyer from Steptoe and Johnson stated the firm vowed to "bury" wrongdoing by Zain. The Zain case and other suits against state troopers has cost taxpayers "millions of dollars."

Faircloth, who has been an advocate of an independent agency investigating citizen's complaints (Citizen's Review Board) against the State Police, said he has tried to work within the state system, but has failed. He maintains blue-on-blue investigations are not accountable to the public. "We need to see some investigation. We need to see someone go to prison," for some of the offenses, he said.

He said the State Police issue is much bigger than the state system can handle. "We need to get the Justice Department involved," he concluded.

Members of the State Police are expected to make a decision soon regarding whether to unionize the organization.


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