WEST virginia Legislature
2021 regular session
House Bill 2891
By Delegates D. Kelly, B. Ward, Hott, Capito, Steele, Pinson, Queen, Westfall, Young and L. Pack
[Introduced March 03, 2021; Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary]
A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §30-29-14, relating to creating minimum standards for law-enforcement officers; providing for the disqualification for entry into the basic law-enforcement academy or from certification in certain instances; providing for the direct supervision of officers who are not certified; providing for the maintenance and the transfer of certain records; and setting a limitation on the disclosure of certain records.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
ARTICLE 29. law enforcement training and certification.
§30-29-14. Minimum standards for law-enforcement officers; disqualification for entry into basic law-enforcement academy or from certification; direct supervision of uncertified officers; maintenance and transfer or records; applicability; limitation on disclosure of records.
(a) Notwithstanding other provisions of law to the contrary, a law-enforcement agency may not employ or offer to employ a law-enforcement officer until it makes written findings documenting that the person meets certain minimum standards, which shall be made available upon request to the subcommittee: Provided, That the hiring agency may set higher minimum standards, or the subcommittee may promulgate legislative rules which establish higher minimum standards as it considers necessary for the employment of law-enforcement officers: Provided, however, That nothing in this section shall be construed to limit, abrogate, or modify any existing rule promulgated by the subcommittee. The minimum standards shall apply only to the initial hiring of a pre-certified law-enforcement officer and consist of the following:
(1) The person is 21 years of age or older, or will be 21 years of age by the date of his or her academy graduation;
(2) The person is a high school graduate or equivalent;
(3) The person has submitted to a psychological assessment and has been recommended for hire as a result;
(4) The person has submitted to and passed a polygraph examination;
(5) The person has not been dishonorably discharged from any branch of the armed forces of the United States or the National Guard;
(6) The person has not been convicted in any civilian or military court of a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year, a crime involving moral turpitude, a crime of domestic violence, or a drug-related crime, or who has been administratively pardoned for any such crime;
(7) The person has not committed any criminal acts as set forth in subdivision (a)(6) of this subsection which did not result in a conviction;
(8) The person is not prohibited by state or federal law from shipping, transporting, receiving, or possessing firearms or ammunition; and
(9) The person has consented to a thorough investigation by the hiring agency into the person’s background and moral character, including, but not limited to, a nationwide criminal background check consisting of inquiries of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the West Virginia criminal history record responses and the National Interstate Identification index, the report of which shall be made a part of the written findings required by this section.
(b) Upon review of the written findings of the hiring agency and the background investigation, the subcommittee may suspend, decertify, or deny the certification of a law- enforcement officer or, if applicable, deny admission to a basic entry-level training program to and person failing to meet these minimum standards in the discretion of the subcommittee.
(c) No person shall be employed as a law-enforcement officer prior to his or her certification unless the person is directly supervised by a certified law-enforcement officer at all times when such person is engaged in law-enforcement duties. For purposes of this section, “directly supervised” means that the certified law-enforcement officer is physically present with, maintains a close visual and verbal contact with, and provides adequate direction to, the person while engaged in law-enforcement duties.
(d) The written findings and background investigation shall be maintained by the initial hiring law-enforcement agency, at a minimum, for the duration of the person’s term of employment. Each time the person transfers to a different law-enforcement agency, copies of the written findings and background investigation shall be transmitted by the person’s most recent employing law-enforcement agency to the newly employed law-enforcement agency.
(e) The provisions of this section shall apply to any persons hired as law-enforcement officers after the effective date of this section.
(f) Written findings and information obtained in the course of any investigation authorized by this section are not public records and are not subject to disclosure under §29B-1-1 et seq. of this code.
NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to create minimum standards for law-enforcement officers; to provide for the disqualification for entry into the basic law enforcement academy or from certification in certain instances; to provide the direct supervision of officers who are not certified; to provide for the maintenance and the transfer of certain records; and to provide a limitation on the disclosure of certain records.
Strike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from a heading or the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.