CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The bill that will stop problem police officers from moving from department to department now has the backing of two prominent police officer associations.
The West Virginia Troopers Association and the West Virginia Sheriffs' Association are both backing a rewritten version of the bill that would suspend an officer's certification upon his departure from a police department. Before he could sign on with another department, the state would review and decide whether to reactivate his certification.
"I think this will instill more public confidence in law enforcement," said Hancock County Sheriff Mike White, president of the Sheriffs' Association. "This will help weed out unsavory officers. It's a good positive thing and it's going to be a benefit to communities across the state."
The revised bill will go before the full Senate on second reading Monday.
The original bill would have required police departments to report problems with officers to a central database, and then for departments to check that database before hiring an officer.
The revised bill requires officers who move from one department to another to sign a waiver allowing the subcommittee to review their personnel file with that previous department before reauthorizing their police officer certification. It also requires the subcommittee to keep the database of all certified officers, which would be available to all departments.
Both versions of the bill give the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Subcommittee -- formerly known as the Law Enforcement Training Subcommittee -- subpoena powers to investigate problem officers that come to their attention.
"We've been working with them [legislators] to make sure the bill does what it intends to do," said John Smith, president of the Troopers Association. "Before, the bill didn't clarify what it wanted to do."
Smith said he felt that the revised bill would stop officers from jumping from one department to another after getting into trouble.
In December, the Sunday Gazette-Mail reported that an examination of 14 years worth of state data showed at least 166 officers have held jobs with more than four departments in West Virginia.