A federal grant funds one position for three years
Elkins, W. Va., June 1, 2021: After the swearing in of three new probationary patrolmen last month, Elkins Police Department Chief Travis Bennett now directs a force of 15 officers.
Prior to council action in 2020, the EPD organizational chart included only 12 officer positions, in addition to the chief. To further expand the department’s capabilities and to reduce overtime costs, Chief Bennett proposed funding two additional officer positions, and this was approved by council last year.
A third position was created after EPD’s successful application for a 2020 U.S. Department of Justice Community Oriented Policing (COPS) Hiring Program grant. The COPS Hiring Program (CHP) is a competitive award program intended to reduce crime and advance public safety through community policing by providing direct funding for the hiring of career law enforcement officers.
“Our COPS grant award funds 75 percent of the cost of one entry-level officer position for three years,” Bennett says. “EPD had a COPS-funded officer in the past and it’s something I really wanted to get back to. It’s a great opportunity to increase our footprint, reduce overtime shifts for other officers, and get some flexibility to try new things.”
To qualify for an award, CHP applicants must identify a specific crime and disorder problem focus area and explain how CHP funding will be used to implement community policing approaches to that problem focus area. According to the COPS office, the Elkins application was one of nearly 1,100 applications requesting more than 4,000 law enforcement positions.
Until the three new officers leave for 16 weeks of training at the West Virginia State Police Academy, they will shadow current EPD officers to begin learning police procedures and tactics as well as familiarizing themselves with the community they have sworn to protect. After graduating from the academy, they will spend one year working side-by-side with an EPD field training officer (FTO) before being issued their own vehicles and beginning to patrol independently.
Statement from EPD Chief T.C. Bennett
Date: February 21, 2020
On February 20, 2020, at approximately 6:24 pm, officers of the Elkins Police Department responded to a house located at 11 Dent Street in Elkins in reference to a shooting.
The location of the incident was in close proximity to the Davis Medical Center, which prompted a lockdown of that facility. Upon arrival, officers secured the scene and learned that one male subject had suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. The victim was treated at Davis Medical Center and subsequently transferred to Ruby Memorial Hospital for further treatment. Officers obtained a search warrant for the crime scene in order to collect evidence pertaining to the incident.
Investigators have been conducting interviews of witnesses and are currently attempting to locate others believed to have knowledge of the incident. A vehicle believed to be involved with this incident was recovered by the West Virginia State Police in Pocahontas County. This is an ongoing investigation. Anyone with information about this incident is urged to contact the Elkins Police Department at (304) 636-0678 or by dialing 911.
I would like to thank the Randolph County Sheriff’s Department, the Pocahontas County Sheriff’s Department, and the Elkins, Marlinton, and Morgantown detachments of the West Virginia State Police for their assistance with this investigation.
Chief of Police