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Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller at the Upshur County Commission's Feb. 11 meeting.

Commission gives sheriff the greenlight on $5,000 sign-on incentive for certified police officers

BUCKHANNON –The Upshur County Sheriff’s Office will start a new sign-on incentive to encourage certified police officers to join – and potentially remain – at the county law enforcement department.

The Upshur County Commission on Thursday approved the program, clearing the way for the sheriff’s office to save money on training new deputies, as Upshur County Sheriff Virgil Miller explained.

“We’re looking to eliminate our cost in hiring and training new officers, and I know we have some interest in surrounding counties from certified officers looking coming to work here in Upshur County and this is a little more incentive for them to do so,” Miller said.

The agreement states the employer, the county, will give the employee $5,000.

“What this agreement will entail is a one-time sign-on bonus of $5,000 if they wish to be employed by the Upshur County Sheriff’s office and if, for whatever reason, they should fail to remain with the sheriff’s office for more than one year, they’ll have to repay the entire amount of $5,000 to the Upshur County Commission. If the officer is employed by the sheriff’s office for more than one year but less than five years, then that scale will be pro-rated,” Miller said.

Miller delineated the total cost of training and paying a new, uncertified officer. 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.

“That’s not an inflated figure – that’s a realistic figure based on the last three candidates we had in the county that didn’t make it,” Miller said.

Commissioner Sam Nolte said the program would be a good way to keep officers long term.

“I think it’s a good way forward,” Nolte said. “All of us get kind of frustrated when the officers that we have for a long period of time don’t make it to the academy or quit prior to starting at the academy and then we’re having to start from scratch again.”

Commission President Kristie Tenney asked Miller if a certified officer would be able to start immediately, without more training.

“It depends on the officer, but I can speak from experience because I came here in April 1980 as a certified officer, and the only thing I had to do was learn the roads and the people in the county, which was a learning curve, but not too bad,” Miller said.

Nolte made the motion to approve the new program and commission Terry Cutright seconded the motion.

Prior to adjourning, the commission also:

  • Approved and signed correspondence supporting the 26th Judicial Community Corrections Day Report Center for inclusion in their FY22 grant application.
  • Approved Lewis-Upshur Animal Control Facility volunteers Anna Cardelli, Maggie Kovalch and Kevin Metz.

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