Randy Yohe Published

W.Va. State Police Superintendent Announces Reforms, Changes, Upgrades

WV State Police Cruiser
A West Virginia State Police cruiser.
Randy Yohe/West Virginia Public Broadcasting

West Virginia State Police (WVSP) Col. Jack Chambers is no longer the “interim” superintendent of the agency. He is now the full-time superintendent, according to Gov. Jim Justice. 

Chambers came over from the Capitol Police four months ago after former WVSP Superintendent Jan Cahill resigned amid a flurry of charges of trooper wrongdoing. 

In the governor’s Wednesday briefing, Chambers addressed questions about ongoing state police investigations, including the extent of hidden camera recordings in the police academy women’s locker room. He said he has sent letters of apology to 71 women, all law enforcement officers filing lawsuits, who have used that women’s locker room in academy training. 

“We did send an apology letter out to any female that may have been victimized by a hidden camera in the locker room,” Chambers said. “Again, unacceptable. I said that on day one.”

Among recent changes, Chambers said state police are installing a new 60 camera security system, have made an academy curriculum adjustment to provide a better educational environment, and leadership will have open communications and regular meetings with all female academy trainees.

“We’ve upgraded our female barracks with in-house female staff members,” he said. “It’s actually a full-time sergeant and a female who went to Academy. We’ve had females over the years but that is her main job now.”

Chambers also said, after a number of retirements, transfers and reassignments within his four-month tenure, he’s also fired four troopers.

“We’ve separated employment with four troopers that were failing to meet the standard and expectations of the state police,” Chambers said.

Chambers said he’s changing daily activity reports on hours worked and approved. He said a first line supervisor has to approve any hours worked.

“No matter what your rank is, it goes to the next level supervisor for approval,” he said. 

He said the FBI will teach the academy civil rights class, emphasizing the seriousness of acting under “the color of law.” 

Regarding specifics in the multiple WVSP investigations that have been ongoing for months, Chambers said he is still limited on what he can reveal at this time. 

He said the state charges for domestic battery on an accused trooper is in the hands of the Ritchie County Prosecutor. He noted that alleged trooper rapes are currently under investigation by federal investigators, along with civil litigation.

He also said the hidden camera at the police academy is currently subject to federal and internal investigations and both of those are in action now.

“Our academy is not completely broke,” Chambers said. “Some would think that, but it is not. Staff changes have been made. I can say the camera systems are in the process of being upgraded to the top of the line so we will know who’s there and who’s not.” 

Chambers said he is in the process of working with the governor’s office to create a WVSP/Marshall University Health Line.

“A line to call in if someone at the academy is having a problem or an issue,” Chambers said. “We want them to have someone to speak to if they feel the need.”