Cops and Courts, Latest News, Morgantown Council

Policing special committee lives on, city facing officer shortage

MORGANTOWN — The ordinance creating the Morgantown Civilian Police Review and Advisory Board body  has been presented and adopted.

But the special committee that drafted the law lives on.

Morgantown City Council voted unanimously Tuesday against the dissolution of the special committee on community policing, which spent more than 10 months drafting the ordinance.

Council adopted the ordinance creating the civilian oversight board May 18. The next morning, as promised, the city’s police officers filed suit as members of the Monongalia-Preston Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 87, claiming state code gives exclusive authority to investigate potential officer misconduct to the police civil service commission.

FOP Lodge 87 represents every officer in the MPD with the exception of Chief Eric Powell, one patrol officer and three probationary officers.

Before council Tuesday was whether the special committee on community policing had completed the task assigned it by city council.

The answer, Deputy Mayor Rachel Fetty initially explained, is yes. However, Fetty, who chaired the special committee, suggested the body be kept intact until the review board members are selected.

Doing so, she said, would provide continuity as June 15 will be the last meeting of the current city council. Fetty is among four members who will not return.

“The work is not yet done. Have we done substantial work, yes. Is it completed? I don’t think so,” she said.

Morgantown’s civilian review board is the first such body in West Virginia to be created voluntarily. A similar body in Bluefield, W.Va. came as part of a 1999 settlement, along with a $1 million, after a 20-year old black man suffered injuries during an arrest that left him paralyzed.

In other police-related news, City Clerk Christine Wade said the city is facing a staffing issue within its police department.

The Morgantown Police Department is authorized to have 72 sworn officers.

Wade said the MPD is currently short 15 officers and could be short as many as 19 by the end of the year.

The MPD is accepting applications for entry-level officers. The civil service exam will be held June 19, and applications must be submitted no later than June 14.

Potential candidates can obtain applications from the Morgantown City Clerk’s office, 389 Spruce St., or on the city website at A testing fee of $25 is due upon submission.

Fetty pushed back against the suggestion that council’s support of the civilian oversight board is hampering recruitment of officers, noting she’s hopeful an ongoing review of city salaries will make the MPD a more compelling option. She also suggested waiving the $25 officer application fee.

Also on Tuesday, council passed a resolution in support of federal passage of the  For the People Act, or H.R.1.

If passed, the bill before Congress would cede control over many aspects related to elections to the federal government.

Council also unanimously adopted a proclamation declaring June as LGBTQ+ Month.

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