KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – As the West Virginia State Police looks to move forward from allegations of wrongdoing by high-ranking members, the agency’s Chief of Staff Major James Mitchell said Wednesday that change starts with training at the academy — sparking an overhaul in curriculum.
Walking through the archives at the West Virginia State Police Academy, Mitchell said retooling throughout the agency’s century of existence has kept it afloat to the present day.
“We are constantly making changes it seems to the academy to fit and whatever needs to be adjusted during the time, the cultures, the changes that we approach,” he said Thursday.
The new curriculum for training comes with added increased sleep for trainees: at least seven hours a night after the first three weeks at the academy.
Sixty cameras will be added to ensure all parts of the academy are under surveillance.
Other changes include opening up communication with women in the academy early to keep dialogue with leadership open.
Mitchell said the mission of the revamp is two-fold: in part motivated by changing times, as well as reports of a hidden video camera in the women’s locker room.
“The increased camera usage was something that we also wanted to do as executive staff, and I think a lot of that is in response to some things that’s happened because we don’t ever want that to happen again. We never wanted it to happen in the first place and honestly, it broke our heart when it did. So we’re setting up measures now to protect the trainees and also to protect staff from maybe false accusations. It can go both directions,” he said.
Mitchell went on to say, “None of us planned on what took place in the state police to ever happen, but when we make the changes we’re making now, it’s not just because of today, it’s because we never want them to happen again. And so we’re taking these measures to make sure that these kinds of things will never happen again.”
Two basic training courses are underway, with two cadet classes set to start in October.
The State Police Academy received $1 million from the Legislature during this month’s special session for security upgrades.
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