CHARLESTON, W. Va. (AP) – West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice on Monday ordered a thorough State Police investigation after he accepted the agency superintendent’s resignation and revealed allegations of wrongdoing, including that a video camera was planted inside a women’s locker room.
The justice said he had appointed Jack Chambers, the assistant director of Capitol Police, as acting superintendent to replace superintendent Jan Cahill, who had served under the justice since the governor took office in 2017. The justice said that Chambers will conduct “a full-scale investigation”. to replace the one started last month under Cahill and which was nearing completion.
One of the targets of the investigation will be an allegation that a State Police employee hid a video camera in the women’s locker room at a State Police facility in Kanawha County.
“To me, it’s absolutely not to be tolerated in any way,” Justice said.
Justice did not specify when it happened, but indicated it was several years ago, possibly before Cahill took over, and that the employee involved later died of an apparent heart attack while jogging.
Justice said three policemen eventually found a thumb drive “and from that they found the video”. At least one of the soldiers “pulled out the flash drive, threw it on the ground and started trampling on it. You can’t make this stuff up, can you? Now we have law enforcement destroying evidence.”
Justice acknowledged that “maybe we won’t be able to recover much information. Perhaps many soldiers are long gone. Maybe there’s no way to recover the evidence. But we should try, because we are better than this.
A separate incident that will be investigated involved money allegedly stolen by a soldier from a man at a casino in the Charleston suburb of Nitro. The governor also said the investigation would look into an unspecified “loss of life” on Interstate 81 in the Eastern Panhandle.
In the casino incident, a man was playing a video machine with a soldier nearby, Justice said. As the man got up to go to the bathroom, an envelope with him fell off the chair. The policeman picked up the envelope and kept the money inside.
“Basically any way you slice it, that money was stolen,” Justice said.
The governor said the State Police should have launched an investigation immediately, but “we didn’t.” The governor did not specify whether the soldier was disciplined.
Justice did not provide details about the I-81 crash, including when it occurred. The governor said he saw the video of what happened and it is “very, very worrying”. An investigation is underway, “and Jack Chambers has to get into this as well,” Justice said.
News reports, citing state police information, reported that a Maryland man was walking along the highway on Feb. 12, was involved in a fight with soldiers, made no response, and was later pronounced dead in a hospital. . Three officers were placed on paid administrative leave pending completion of investigations.
In a November 2018 incident that justice said was “casting a dark shadow” over law enforcement, police dashcam video showed an officer kicking and punching a handcuffed teenager to the ground and kneeling on his shoulder during a traffic stop in the Eastern Panhandle. State Police said the teen was involved in a crash with a sheriff’s car before a chase ensued, his vehicle crashing again before he was arrested. Two police officers were fired before one of them resumed work. Two sheriff’s deputies were also fired and later reinstated.
Chambers served a total of 26 years with the Capitol Police and State Police. The Capitol Police, also known as the Division of Protective Services, was established in 1999 to provide security for the State Capitol Complex in Charleston and other state facilities.
The justice said she met with Cahill at the superintendent’s request Monday morning at the governor’s mansion when Cahill tendered his resignation.
“I’m with and behind our police on every issue to the point where it goes beyond what’s right,” Justice said.
Before becoming superintendent, Cahill was a sheriff in Greenbrier County, where the governor has a home and owns the elegant Greenbrier resort. Prior to that, Cahill spent 23 years with the State Police in a variety of roles. He started out as a field trooper in 1989 and retired as troop captain in Beckley in 2012, when he was elected to his first of two terms as sheriff.