(12/30/2016)
by Leslie Rubin Gazette/Mail

The budget crisis across the state of West Virginia continues to impact the West Virginia State Police as there are currently no plans to hire new troopers in the state next year.

State police Lt. Michael Baylous confirms there is no cadet class scheduled for 2017. There was also no cadet class this year and hasn't been a graduating class since May of 2015. Baylous said there was no money the agency's budget for a class.

Baylous could not answer further questions and referred comment to the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety.

Baylous did say it's not the first time there hasn't been a cadet class since the state police's formation in 1919 and the agency has gone one or two years in the past without bringing in new troopers.

The West Virginia State Police is the fourth oldest state policy agency in the country.

A typical cadet class size can vary but usually is between 35 and 45 cadets who go through six months of intense training at the State Police Academy in Institute.

State police recently posted answers to frequently asked questions on the agency's Facebook page after the announcement that three detachments would be closing. The detachments are in Hundred, Grantsville, and Elizabeth.

One of the frequently asked questions was if the closures would result in trooper layoffs.

"We have chosen this course of action precisely to avoid future layoffs. In response to an earlier state budget reduction, we cut 29 vacant trooper positions and returned that money to general revenue. That funding was not restored to the State Police in the current budget," the Facebook post read.

"For this latest reduction, we also cut another 22 vacant trooper positions and returned that money to general revenue. It is unknown whether that funding will eventually be restored.

So, the West Virginia State Police has relinquished 51 Trooper positions to avoid future layoffs. Colonel Smithers and his staff have considered all possible alternatives to layoffs. The closings of the Elizabeth, Hundred, and Grantsville Detachments are reasonable alternatives to layoffs and to drastic cuts in other critical areas."

State police has said previously the the detachment closures would not affect public safety in those areas. "Troopers who are currently assigned in the affected areas will still be patrolling those areas.

In fact, in some instances coverage may increase at times since they will be assigned to a larger detachment which will have more manpower and resources at their disposal," one of the answers to a question stated.

"It must be stressed that the men and women of the West Virginia State Police continue to fulfill their vital public safety mission in every corner of this state. The State Police has always proven adept at making best use of available resources," Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety Assistant Secretary Lawrence Messina wrote in an e-mail in response to inquiries about the cadet class and detachment closures.

Messina deferred questions regarding prospects for a cadet class and any cost estimates on the state police.


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