BUCKHANNON – The Upshur County Commission this week approved a three-way agreement regarding new deputies between the commission, the Upshur County Sheriff’s Office and new deputy hires that are not yet certified police officers.
The agreement is designed to save the county money and is a tool to attract only serious applicants, Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller said at the commission’s weekly meeting Thursday, Feb. 18.
Miller proposed that the agreement will be used when the sheriff’s office hires a new non-certified deputy, and it lays out the requirements for the potential new hire.
“In the past, we’ve always just hired them, put them to work and sent them to the academy and as you know, we’ve not had very good luck with that and it has not been very successful,” Miller told commissioners. “This agreement states the candidate for the position shall successfully train to gain certification and during that time, upon their hiring, they would sign an agreement, they agree to successfully attend and complete the [West Virginia State Police] Academy and once they become certified, it’s a three-year obligation to the county.”
The agreement says if the candidate should leave for whatever reason, they must reimburse the county for all expenses incurred on their behalf. The total reimbursement may include wages, benefits, tuition, fees, and expenses.
Upshur County Commissioner Terry Cutright asked whether the agreement includes candidates that don’t make it to the academy.
“Yes, I think the agreement should be in effect upon hire and whatever has been invested, they would have to reimburse,” Miller said. “We went back and looked at the last three new hires we had, which left at some point before ever attending the academy and I think we had $86,000 invested in those three, so it’s not a small sum of money.”
Miller said it’s particularly hard to get a deputy to the academy because of COVID-19.
“We have Cade Garrett downstairs, he was hired in August and right now the Academy is saying he’s not going be able to go until May,” Miller said. “Then it will be pretty much a year before he even gets out of the Academy.”
Miller said the agreement will ensure only serious applicants apply.
“I think, before they decide they want to be an applicant and start the testing process, they know they have signed this agreement and I think they’ll put a little more thought into it – it won’t be just on a whim,” Miller explained.
In a previous My Buckhannon story, Miller outlined how expensive it can be to train a new non-certified deputy.
He said the cost of enrollment in the West Virginia State Police Academy is $2,000, supplies for the academy is $450, 120 days of pay before the academy is $16,800, the cost of regular pay during the academy is $7,000, the cost of overtime and weekend pay during the academy is $4,200 and the county’s cost for benefits such as Social Security and retirement is $6,482.
The total cost of hiring a brand-new deputy, Miller said, amounts to $36,932.
Commissioner Terry Cutright made a motion to approve the agreement, which was seconded by commissioner Sam Nolte prior to passing unanimously.