5 new Morgantown police officers graduate state academy

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Nearly a year after the City of Morgantown began collecting a Safe Streets & Safe Community Service Fee,
Morgantown Police Department is increasing its force.

When the $3.00 weekly fee, placed on workers who are employed within city limits, was being considered Morgantown council members
earmarked 40% of the revenue collected for police protection personnel and retention and police equipment.

Friday, the Morgantown Police Department grew by five new officers who graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy.

“This has all been made a result of the user fee for Morgantown. We’re just now getting to the point where we’re starting to see the results of the user fee from the public safety stand point because it takes so long to select and train police officers,” noted Police Chief Ed Preston.

The hiring of officers Alexandra Arthurs, Zane Breakiron, Joseph Bridge, Robert Meador, and Cody Shane brings the departments force up to 70 officers.

They completed a sixteen week training course that included firearm safety, physical fitness training and arrest training.

“It’s a really exciting time, the growth of the agency, the growth of the department. Every time we get new blood, it energizes you,” described Preston.

The five officers will now move to the city department’s field training program.

Preston said that means “training in the field to enhance their basic skills in order to serve as solo officers in the city.”

Because of the revenue generated by the user fee, Preston said four more officers will be hired to send to the academy in the near future.

According to the chief, the department is about to employee its largest number of officers.

“(It’s) not just the largest since I’ve been here, but the largest in the history of the department. Seventy officers in the field with this graduating class but the next four will make 74 officers in the field.”

A larger police force means better coverage area and smaller patrol zones per officer.

“The idea is to reduce the number of calls individually so we can spend more time instead of addressing symptoms, we can start treating causes,” Preston added.

Morgantown’s newest officers graduated from the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute at 10 a.m. Friday.

When city leaders first introduced the Morgantown user fee, it was estimated to bring in $4.6 million in revenue from 30,000 workers in the city annually.