Some have been accused of rape, others pleaded to misdemeanors. One witnessed a savage beating that’s sending his partner to prison. All are still wearing a badge. The Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette-Mail reports that despite a recent rash of incidents of police misconduct, just seven of the nearly 3,500 police officers in West Virginia have lost their certification since the 2005-06 fiscal year. The state has a high threshold to remove police officer’s badges once they’re certified, said Chuck Sadler, state law enforcement training coordinator. “Once they’re hired, unless they are convicted of a crime and the committee takes action, they will always carry that certification,” Sadler said.
The entity that certifies and decertifies police officers in West Virginia — the Law Enforcement Training Subcommittee of the Governor’s Committee on Crime, Delinquency and Corrections — considers decertifying only officers who have been convicted of a jailable offense. Officers who have gotten into trouble, but still hold their certification, merely switch departments. Forty-four states that have some form of officer decertification. Of those, fewer than half decertify only officers who have been convicted of a crime. “That’s a pretty low standard. It should be any termination or if some officer is under investigation by internal affairs and then resigns. That’s essentially a plea bargain,” said St. Louis University law Prof. Roger Goldman.