CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Almost as many former officers have lost their ability to be police in West Virginia so far in 2010 as in the previous four and a half years total, according to state figures.
The agency that certifies and decertifies officers in West Virginia - the Law Enforcement Training Subcommittee of the Governor's Committee on Crime, Delinquency and Corrections - has decertified five police officers since the beginning of the year.
Seven of the state's nearly 3,500 police officers were decertified by the committee from July 2005 to the end of 2009.
Several of the officers were decertified this year because prosecutors have started requiring officers who face criminal charges to give up their badge as part of plea agreements, said West Virginia State Police Sgt. Curtis Tilley, chairman of the certification committee and assistant director of training at the State Police training academy.
"I'm not sure [prosecutors] were seeking that as part of a plea in the past," Tilley said. "There's not a process for someone to surrender their badge in West Virginia.... When it's part of a plea it requires a simple action by the committee."
Tilley said at least two of the five officers decertified since the beginning of the year were the result of plea agreements.
One, former Dunbar police sergeant Raymond O. "Dale" Conley, pleaded guilty to a civil rights violation in December for abusing his position as a police officer and coercing a woman into having sex with him.
Conley, 40, repeatedly used thinly veiled suggestions to tell women that they had the option of getting out of trouble for sexual favors.
Conley was also sentenced to a year in prison, the maximum possible sentence.
In general, the subcommittee only considers decertifying officers who have been convicted of a jailable offense, Tilley said.
However, the committee is looking at the case of Moorefield police officer Galen Reel, who pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a woman, then said that plea was a lie and was acquitted in court.
If an officer has been convicted of a crime, there's no guarantee that the certification committee will be notified.