CHARLESTON — Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that he has accepted the resignation of West Virginia State Police Superintendent Jan Cahill amid an investigation of the agency that seems primed to continue at multiple levels.
The governor named an acting superintendent, Jack Chambers, and directed him to follow up on specific inquiries into state police actions. And the governor confirmed the West Virginia State Police agency is under federal scrutiny.
“Today is surely one of those tough days,’ Justice said during an afternoon news conference.
Cahill’s resignation follows an investigation by the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, although the official results have not yet been publicly revealed.
The investigation started with an anonymous letter that made a range of allegations about monetary and sexual actions involving troopers. The administration began looking into the validity of the allegations after being asked about them by television news reporters.
Monday afternoon, the governor said those investigations involved video recordings in a state police women’s locker room several years ago, the more recent destruction of a hard drive where some of those recordings had been stored, the involvement of a trooper in a theft at a casino and an active investigation over a death along Interstate 81, involving a trooper.
Justice specified that the suspect in the video recording allegation died several years ago.
Still, the governor said, “We need to clean up our house. It’s a bad day.”
The Justice administration indicated a preliminary investigation of those matters had been concluded late last week but that the governor had not yet had time to review the results. The administration had planned public disclosure of the findings later this week, but Cahill’s resignation moved up the timeline.
The governor said the trooper who leads his security detail told him on Sunday evening that Cahill was trying very hard to get ahold of him. This morning, Justice said, he and Cahill “sat in my driveway and talked.” During that conversation, Justice told the superintendent “there is no pathway here” to remain in that job.
By the conclusion of the conversation, Justice said the superintendent informed him of his resignation. The governor’s office indicated the resignation took place at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
The briefing did not shed much light on Cahill’s degree of responsibility for the matters under investigation. But the governor said, “While there surely was good, there’s surely bad judgment at this point in time. Bad judgment leads to bad things.”
Last week, Justice said an administration investigation into the state police was nearing its end. At the time, Justice made specific reference to Cahill, who has been in that role since the administration took office in 2017. Previously, Cahill had been the sheriff in Greenbrier County, where Justice has long made his home.
“You know, Jan’s been a friend and you know I hope to goodness that the investigation comes in differently than I think it’s going to come in, but I don’t think this is going to be a good day for several folks once it’s completed,” Justice said last week.
Monday, Justice said, “with the resignation of our colonel, we move on.”
The governor named Chambers, who has been a deputy with the state Capitol Police, as the acting superintendent. Justice said he wants Chambers to review the state’s investigation with more detail. “There are many areas of allegations. Jack Chambers will address those allegations,” Justice said.
In response to a question by WOWK TV reporter Amanda Barren, the governor acknowledged that federal investigators are also examining the West Virginia State Police.
“Surely. Without question,” Justice said. “I can promise you the Feds are already looking at the stuff.”