HEADS CONTINUE TO ROLL AT STATE POLICE LAB - Lab Head Resigns Following Last Weeks Firing

By Bob Weaver

The chief of the West Virginia State Police's crime lab, Capt. Rick Theis, has reportedly resigned, according to the Charleston Gazette. Theis had been placed on administrative leave in March.

The Theis resignation follows the State Police firing of lab supervisor Sgt. Timothy Grant White, 35, last week.

Sgt. White had reported a civilian lab worker had acted improperly last year. Todd McDaniel, 33, was sent to jail on White's testimony.

The State Police have yet to release findings regarding an internal investigation which also involved the FBI and other agencies. A report obtained last year by the Gazette, showed "signs of deception" while Sgt. White took a lie detector test.

While the State Police have maintained no one has been wrongly accused or imprisoned by faulty lab tests, at least one former prisoner was reportedly paid one million dollars.

The State Police Lab has been accused of sloppiness and much worse over lab employee Fred Zain, whose ghost continues to haunt the agency. Several attorney groups and criminologists say the State Police lab is further flawed, indicating conflict of interest. Some have called for an independent lab to be formed.

The State Police lobby has held off efforts by the the West Virginia Legislature to reorganize the agency. Nearly all State Troopers have joined a new union, claiming they have been victimized by mismanagement. The blue-on-blue (in West Virginia green-on-green) professional misconduct process continues to be called to task, indicating it is not responsive to the public's interest.

A wide-spread trend of professional misbehavior and abuse has plagued the agency in recent years, some blaming the problem on a lack of psychological screening or military-like training at the State Police Academy. Others contend the supervisory system has broken down.