WVSP balances increased patrols, other duties despite limited manpower

December 30, 2017 GMT

HUNTINGTON - While state troopers have increased patrols in Huntington for several weeks to help police cut short a recent surge of violence, their larger presence also means many of them aren’t where they normally would be.

The West Virginia State Police normally stations 14 troopers out of Huntington, but more have been working in Cabell County since the detachment’s commander, Sgt. B.K. Wellman, pledged to provide manpower and resources toward public safety in a joint press conference with community leaders Dec. 12 at City Hall after a series of fatal shootings.

The extra help is coming from Troop 5′s other posts in Wayne, Lincoln, Boone, Mingo and Logan counties. Capt. Dave Nelson, the troop’s commander, has been drawing anywhere from six to 10 extra troopers from those detachments each day to help the Huntington Police Department and the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department with the patrols.

“I just redeploy men at different times, at different periods, where it wouldn’t be an adverse, long-term effect on any other detachments,” Nelson said.

Local police are bound to their municipalities, and sheriff’s deputies are bound to their counties. State troopers, however, have jurisdiction throughout the state of West Virginia, no matter to which troop or detachment they are assigned.

Until Wellman’s announcement, though, troopers of the Huntington detachment spent most of their time out in the county because that’s typically where they are most needed.

While he said no areas have been left uncovered, Capt. Reggie Patterson, public information officer for the WVSP, suggested that the increased patrols might work for a while but may eventually become unsustainable.

“We are limited as far as manpower overall,” Patterson said. “Anytime you pull troopers from another area, it affects those areas in some way, shape or form.”

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a burden or even a problem, and Nelson is confident Troop 5 can handle the workload.

Nelson said the troopers’ duty is to serve wherever they are needed, and more of them happen to be needed in Huntington at the moment.

Besides that, WVSP uses some grant and patrol funds to make up the difference for overtime hours.

“We’re doing what we need to do to take care of the situation,” Nelson said. “That’s what we do for a living.”

Follow reporter Joshua Qualls on Twitter