EPD Grows to 15 Officers
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.