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In a video press conference Monday afternoon, Gov. Jim Justice announced he accepted the resignation of State Police Superintendent Col. Jan Cahill early that morning.
An investigation found evidence of videotaping a State Police women’s locker room, stealing money at a casino and a concerning I-81 crash investigation.
Justice said, “The more we dug, the more it stunk, you can’t make this stuff up.”
A Department of Homeland Security probe began with an anonymous letter listing allegations of State Police wrongdoing.
“When you absolutely think that a women’s locker room ought to be an absolute safe place, we’ve got a situation, whether it was in 2014 or 2016, whether it was before Jan (Col. Jan Cahill), before the governor or whatever it may be, our State Police did stuff that was really bad,” Justice said. “We put a video camera in the women’s locker room. To me, it is absolutely intolerant, not to be tolerated in any way.”
Justice said the invasion of women’s privacy got even worse regarding destruction of evidence, after the unnamed individual who planted the camera died of a heart attack.
“There were three troopers that found a thumb drive and from that they found the video,” Justice said. “Then from what I understand, one, if not all, immediately jerked a thumb drive out and threw it on the floor and started stomping on it. Now we’ve got law enforcement officers destroying evidence.”
Justice said the investigation also found videotape evidence showing a State Police trooper committing theft at the Mardi Gras casino in Cross Lanes.
“There was a man playing one of the video machines,” Justice said. “There was a state trooper close by. In some way, the man got up and an envelope that he had fell out in the seat. I think he went on to the restroom. There’s no way to look at this other than just this, the trooper picked it up and took the money. Basically, that money was stolen. And then as far as doing a quick investigation and getting right on to what we should get onto, we didn’t do that.”
Justice said a third investigation is still underway involving State Police trooper involvement in a fatal accident on Interstate 81.
“We’ve had an individual loss of life on I-81,” Justice said, “I’ve seen the video. The video is very, very concerning. The investigation is ongoing at this time.”
Cahill, the former Greenbrier County Sheriff, had been State Police Superintendent since the Justice administration took office in 2017. Justice said Cahill asked around midnight Sunday to talk. They met in Justice’s driveway on Monday morning.
“The first thing I told Jan was there is no pathway here,” Justice said. “There is no pathway that absolutely you can remain as the colonel of the State Police in the state of West Virginia.”
Justice said he has appointed Capitol Police Lt. Col. Jack Chambers as interim State Police Superintendent and said Chambers will work with Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy to further investigate the locker room and casino incidents.
“Jack Chambers is a man of honor,“ Justice said. “He’ll do the right things and we entrust upon him to absolutely do any level of rightness, clean up, whatever it may be, we will entrust upon him to do just that. As I promised you, it’s got to go further than that, and here’s where there are many areas of allegations and Jack Chambers will absolutely address those allegations.”
The governor’s Chief of Staff, Brian Abraham, said other allegations regarding the State Police are still under investigation. Justice said federal investigators are already looking at these incidents and that Chambers will work with Secretary Sandy and the governor’s office to restore trust and integrity to the West Virginia State Police.