Gov. Justice accepts resignation of Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) - West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced on Monday, March 20, that he had accepted the resignation of Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police, Jan Cahill.
According to Gov. Justice, Cahill turned in his letter of resignation at 9:30 a.m. Monday.
During a virtual press briefing on Monday, Gov. Justice said he spoke with Cahill on Monday morning in the driveway of the governor’s mansion.
“The first thing I told Jan was, “Jan, there is no pathway here. There is no pathway, that absolutely you can remain the Colonel of the State Police in the State of West Virginia,” said Gov. Justice.
Cahill’s resignation comes after an anonymous letter claiming serious allegations of wrongdoing against members of the West Virginia State Police was sent to numerous delegates, senators, and Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.
The information was also mailed several months ago to the Governor’s Office and the West Virginia Office of Special Investigations.
Wrongdoing allegations raised against West Virginia State Police
The five-page letter details accusations including a hidden camera system that was placed in the women’s locker room at the West Virginia State Police training academy, a “ghost account” used for purchases, falsified overtime and a trooper not reporting three crashes in a department-issued vehicle.
Some of the accusations date back to 2018.
The letter stated the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security had conducted an investigation into the allegations. The Governor’s Office confirmed that investigation.
During a press conference on Monday, March 20, regarding the resignation, Gov. Jim Justice announced Jack Chambers, the Deputy Director of Capitol Police, will fill the interim position of Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police.
“We are filling this interim position with absolutely a superstar that has credibility and credentials a mile long,” said Gov. Justice.
“There are many areas of allegations. Jack Chambers will absolutely address those allegations. But. I want to say just this, the very biggest allegation, that won’t be tolerated in any way is that we have violated, on our state police level, women’s rights. Wouldn’t you think, that a women’s locker room ought to be a safe place?”
“Our state police did stuff that was really bad. A video camera was put in the women’s locker room,” said Gov. Justice. “To me, it is absolutely not to be tolerated in any way. And we all know this. But it gets even worse. The individual that did this, died. Tragically died, running on the track – had a massive heart attack and died. So then, there were three troopers that found a thumb drive and from that they found a video and then, from what I understand, one if not all, immediately jerked the thumb drive out and threw it in the floor and started stomping on it.”
After describing several of the allegations lodged against state police, Gov. Justice paused, shook his head and said, “You can’t make this stuff up, can you?”
Gov. Justice said on Monday he is instructing new interim Superintendent of the West Virginia State Police, Jack Chambers, to immediately launch an investigation into any wrongdoings.
Gov. Justice said he is also asking Chambers to reopen an investigation into potentially stolen money during an incident involving a state police trooper at a casino.
“At the casino, there was a man playing one of the video machines. There was a state trooper close by. The man got up and an envelope that he had fell out into the seat and 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, any way you cut it, that money was stolen,” said Gov. Justice.
I don’t know what in the world else we can do other than - replace, not tolerate, and move forward.”
“We need to clean up our own houses when we have a problem. It’s a bad day. It’s been a day ever since people started coming out with allegations and the more we dug the worse it stunk.”
After the press conference, WSAZ Investigative/Political Reporter Curtis Johnson caught up with the governor to ask a few follow up questions, chief among the questions – why there hasn’t been other action taken against individual troopers accused of wrongdoing.
“The findings that Secretary (Jeff) Sandy has presented, is that not enough to at least put someone on leave,” Johnson asked.
“Not to my knowledge,” Justice replied. “Not at this point in time.”
“Why is that?” Johnson inquired.
“It’s just not,” Justice replied. “That’s just all there is to it. I just don’t think we have that right now.
“From the standpoint of if the trooper really had stolen the money from the casino was still working and everything, absolutely; from the standpoint (of) the first trooper, is the trooper that did the investigation of that trooper, and it has taken a month, and I think it was concluded today and everything -- that’s something we really need to look at; and the troopers that destroyed the evidence by stepping on the thumb drive and whatever like that, we need to look, we need to look at all of that,” he continued.
“Do you anticipate any criminal charges coming in all of this?”
“It’s possible,” Justice replied. “I can’t really speak to that because that’s not, that’s not my expertise.”
Given the anonymous nature of the letters, Johnson also asked if that points to a bigger problem.
“Do you think there is a long-running culture of fear among the ranks about coming forward with information?” Johnson asked.
“In any organization we strive over and over and over to develop more and more transparency,” Justice replied. “From time to time, I could surely see where someone would be hesitant to stand up. It happens in our schools, it happens everywhere. We need to do better at that.”
This is a developing story.
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