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
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.