BY MIKE NOLTING
The new leader of the state police told state lawmakers Monday better days are ahead for the agency.
Interim West Virginia State Police Superintendent Col. Jack Chambers is looking into allegations within the department of theft, rape, misuse of government funds, destroying evidence and violations of privacy.
“I’m not going to be able to do it overnight, but I have been working diligently since I’ve been there with help from the department,” Chambers said, who was appointed last month. “We have a lot of good people down there. We have a few we probably don’t need, but for the most part, I have a great department — great officers and great civilians.”
Since Chambers has been appointed, his actions have included personnel changes at the highest levels of the force. Major Shallon Oglesby, former chief of Staff Services at State Police Headquarters, is now serving as a first lieutenant in the procurement section. Major James Findley was moved from the Professional Standards Division to the West Virginia Turnpike, where he will serve as a first lieutenant and handle logistics.
Chambers said all levels of the department have been cooperating with any requests for information and documents in order to keep the investigation moving.
Chambers detailed recent changes made when it comes to payroll and keeping track of grant funding.
New levels of verification are being added to processes, and Chambers said they are considering the use of the automated payroll system Kronos.
“There’s monitoring now, check-off on everybody’s time sheet, troopers go through a supervisor, then it goes through the rank military structure,” Chambers said.
Also under investigation is the allocation of vehicle inspection revenue. Of the sum paid by motorists, $3 goes to state police expressly for the purchase and maintenance of or equipping vehicles. One of the anonymous tips of misconduct — which started the investigation — was that the money was being used for big-ticket items that were not related to vehicles.
“Probably used some of this money that was allowed to be used that wasn’t for vehicles but was for something else because another fund was short,” Chambers said. “Do I think you have a bunch of money from people going on vacations and things like that? Absolutely not.”
Chambers said he and his department will comply with all requests during the investigation, but moving forward, he wants full compliance with all rules, codes and policies.
“I can promise you that if I’m there for one year, two years, six years, or 12 years, I’m not going to go outside the guidelines; I’ll just do without — it’s as simple as that.”
Chambers told lawmakers he would expect to have a more comprehensive report as some of these investigations begin to wrap up.