System getting cops on target
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The state agency tasked with tracking firearms-qualification data for West Virginia's police officers only recently gained the ability to track the data, according to a recent audit.
The State Division of Justice and Community Services had been deficient in tracking the firearms-qualification data for at least six years, according to a legislative auditor's report released in December 2012.
In 2010, the DJCS had collected firearms-qualification data from only 51 of the state's 272 police agencies, according to the audit. The DJCS had no accurate way to determine which of West Virginia's more than 3,500 officers were properly trained to use firearms.
However, during the course of the audit, the DJCS installed a new computer system, replacing a 13-year-old system that was long considered obsolete.
The new system, called Acadis, is specially tailored to track police and military training data. Indiana-based software company Envisage Systems built it and trained the DJCS staff to use it in early 2012.
The DJCS now can properly identify which officers and agencies are not in compliance with required firearms qualifications, said Chuck Sadler, state law enforcement training coordinator.
If an officer does not complete firearms qualifications twice a year, the DJCS is required to report that officer to the professional standards subcommittee. That 11-member body would then review the case and decide to revoke or retain the officer's certification.
No police officer has lost certification for not meeting required firearms qualifications. The DJCS had allowed officers who did not submit firearms-qualification data to remain certified.
The agency had collected data from only 25 percent of all police officers, according to the audit. However, that will no longer be the case, Sadler said. By June 30, 2014, the end of the training year, the DJCS will know who has and has not completed the firearms qualifications, he said.
The firearms qualification requires officers to fire a minimum of 32 rounds at a range of 3 to 15 yards with their primary service handgun. The officers must score 75 percent or better in low-light conditions to pass.
Once an officer completes the firearms qualifications, the information will upload into Acadis automatically.
The DJCS took a rare step in mailing memos to the state's 272 police agencies announcing the new system, Sadler said. The memo notified agencies that firearms qualifications would be tracked and enforced.
Before the change, there was a temptation for some agencies to not submit qualification data, Sadler said.
"Some agencies chose not to," he said, "because they knew no one was checking on it."
Reach Travis Crum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-5163.