December 10, 1949: West Virginia State Police Academy Graduates its First Class

Jackson Arnold, first State Police superintendent

On December 10, 1949, the West Virginia State Police Academy graduated its first class. Those first 20 cadets had started their training two months earlier, shortly after the building was completed at Institute in Kanawha County. For the first 30 years of its existence, the State Police had lacked a training academy.

Captain Charles W. Ray is generally recognized as the father of the academy. Ray had sought but failed to obtain funding from State Police superintendents during the 1930s. His lack of success changed in the early ’40s, when Colonel H. Clare Hess became superintendent. Hess found the necessary funding, and Ray selected a 24-acre hilltop location just west of Charleston.

The academy was extensively expanded and remodeled in the 1960s and ’70s. A new dormitory was completed in 1969, and another building—with additional dormitories, offices, and a dining hall—was completed in 1976.

Today, the State Police Academy provides training for city police and county deputy sheriffs from across the state as well as Division of Natural Resources officers. New state troopers are trained in the Cadet Program and later participate in annual in-service training.