MORGANTOWN — The WVU Police Department is looking to hire at least five new officers, Chief W. P. Chedester said.
“I truly believe it’s a calling,” he said of police work.
The positions are to fill slots available because of promotions and retirements.
The hiring process begins with an application submitted online through the WVU careers webpage. Chedester said the department prefers applicants have at least an associate’s degree or the equivalent of 60 credit hours or military experience.
After the application period closes, Human Resources selects a pool of qualified candidates to take a physical fitness test and interview with the hiring committee.
The physical fitness test requires candidates to run a mile and a half in 14 minutes and 36 seconds, perform 18 pushups in one minute and 28 sit-ups in one minute.
Lt. C. Barker said that’s the standard for the West Virginia State Police Academy.
Interviews are conducted by Barker and two others in the department.
Top candidates after the physical exam and interview then undergo background checks, drug tests and psychological tests, and those who pass are hired.
New hires then attend the State Police Academy and after graduation are assigned a field training officer for their first three months on the job, Chedester said.
Officer B. Rokosz said the academy is like boot camp — cut off from the outside world and filled with constant training.
Finally, somewhere close to a year after the application was submitted, the new officer can take the road on his own, he said.
WVU Police start at $17.77 an hour and after graduating from the academy are given a raise to $18.91. Chedester said. The next raise — to
$20.05 — comes after promotion to patrolman first class, typically achieved in an officer’s second year, he said.
Comprehensive benefits — including dental, vision and health insurance — are available, and there’s even an option for pet insurance.
There’s also “ample opportunity” for overtime through special details like football and basketball games and various grant work such as
the Governor’s Highway Safety Program targeting distracted drivers and one to combat drunk driving, Chedester said.
As a university police force, there is a larger focus on proactive and community policing, Rokosz said.
He said there are three main goals on every call. The first is to solve whatever problem they are called for.
“Obviously, if the police are called, there is a problem with something,” Rokosz said.
The second is to fix that problem safely. Officer safety is drilled into officers at the academy, especially in the final few weeks, he said. He said trainees use simulation rounds and are put into scenarios that show any call can turn dangerous.
Finally, the third thing to accomplish on every call is to improve police relations. Rokosz said he doesn’t want to arrest and cite on every call and ruin someone’s day, but even if he has to, he tries to do it in a way that leaves the offender thinking it wasn’t as bad as it could have been.
Rokosz said he believes that respect is reflected in the student population. He said the force is able to de-escalate situations with its presence, and that wouldn’t happen if the force was more aggressive and used a “police voice” to order people around all the time.
“WVU, in general, as a police department is very oriented towards making sure the focus of every day is seen in students,” he said.
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