Declining number of West Virginia State Troopers to affect Jefferson County

JENNIFER R. YOUNG  Special to The Journal

CHARLES TOWN — As of July 2017, the West Virginia State Troopers will be down almost 10 percent across the state, and Jefferson County is already feeling the affects of the reduction in troops, according to Jefferson County Sheriff Peter “Pete” Dougherty. The sheriff explained the problem while addressing the Jefferson County Commission at their last meeting of the year Thursday.

“We used to have 15 state troopers in Jefferson County. Now we are down to four,” he said. “It is obviously going to put a strain on us. Our workload in our office has gone up and it continues to go up.”

West Virginia troopers overall are at 650 to date. By July 2017, due to retiring officers and attrition, the state will be down to 600. However, Jefferson County will see the drop as early as Jan. 1.

According to the sheriff and the Jefferson County Commissioners, part of the long-standing problem is the inability to attract and retain State Troopers whose salaries are not scaled to match the cost of living in Jefferson County versus other counties in the state.

“I feel like we are always getting the short end of the stick in terms of state police,” said Dale Manuel, during what was his final JCC meeting — he is being replaced next year by Josh Compton. “It is expensive here. A lot of troopers don’t want to come here because of pay and cost of living.”

Dougherty said that as of Jan. 1, the WV State Police informed him they will not be working any midnight calls either. This also puts additional responsibility on the sheriff’s department.

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Front of the Jefferson County Courthouse, located at the intersection of N. George and E. Washington Streets in Charles Town, West Virginia, United States. Built in 1859, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.