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SUNSHINE WEEK: Morgantown pays police chiefs about national average

This is one in a series of articles to mark Sunshine Week, which is a national initiative to educate the public about the importance of open government.

In his last full year as Morgantown’s Chief of Police, Ed Preston made just under the national average for his position.

In 2019, his last full year before resigning at the end of June 2020, Preston made $102,194.11, according to Morgantown Communications Director Andrew Stacy. He was paid an hourly rate of $47.54, which works out to $98,883.20 a year, assuming a 40-hour work week.

The average chief of police makes $103,434 in base pay, according to, a website that allows employees to review their companies and share salaries. That number is based on 101 reported salaries.

When Preston announced his resignation in April, he said he hoped the money saved by his resignation would keep the department from layoffs or having to cut the salaries of officers, due to the impacts of COVID-19 on city finances.

Assuming Preston would have earned the same amount in 2020 as he did in 2019, the city saved at least $41,022.11 on payroll. The base pay for a new officer is $41,412.80, according to an application information sheet last updated in 2017, available on the city’s website.

Additionally, as he resigned, the city did not have to pay Preston a pension. The percentage of a final average salary received depends on the employee’s years of service starting at 25% for 10 years and 47% at 20 years. The pension maxes out at 75% for 35 years, Stacy said.

During his first year with the city in 2011, Preston made $68,549.23. That increased to $89,955 in 2012, the first full year he worked for the city. It steadily grew by about $1,200-2,500 each year.

Morgantown has spent about $1,000 on its search for a permanent replacement for Preston. Stacy said the job was posted to Indeed, International City/County Management Association, International Association of Chief of Police, and the Morgantown/Kingwood NAACP.

While the city searches, Interim Chief Eric Powell was promoted from deputy chief and given a raise to $42.22 per hour. Preston recommended Powell be named the next chief.

The job posting advertises the position as having a salary range of $90,000-$101,000.

In addition, the job also provides the same benefits it does to all officers. Benefits include a retirement plan, longevity pay after the third year of service, vacation and sick leave, health insurance, a health reimbursement account, dental insurance, vision insurance, long-term disability, and life insurance.

The costs of benefits for each employee can vary. For example, someone might not choose to use the city’s dental or vision plan, which would alter the amount spent by the city, Stacy said.

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