“There is no professionalism in this department. Even the meter maid, Steve Poage has a DUI arrest but White is still allowing him to drive around town in city vehicles writing tickets.” And, “White has no leadership ability; he is to busy making sexually implicit remarks to female staff, who are to scared for their job to report him.” Inside Source - Elkins PD
According to one document and other information we obtained two weeks ago, turmoil within the Elkins PD is about to cause the department to implode. Chief of police Rob White is said to be at the center of the problems after accusations his officers no longer support or have confidence in him as their chief. At least two employees from the police department reportedly went to city council members and complained that their department morale was at an all time low because of the chief’s failure to effectively manage the police department’s day to day operation. There was even talk of a "Blue Flu."
Besides the poor morale, other concerns were expressed to city officials. Allegations from the chiefs alleged lewd and sexual comments to female city employees, to his failure to ensure people are adequately trained to do the job. “There is no professionalism in this department. Even the meter maid, Steve Poage has a recent DUI arrest but White is still allowing him to drive around town in city vehicles writing tickets.”
And, “White has no leadership ability; he is to busy making sexually implicit remarks to female staff who are to scared for their job to report him.” Reportedly, several city employees tried to arrange a transfer to another city department for the chiefs secretary, Melissa Stalnaker, but it never materialized.
When White learned his staff was speaking out, he had a letter prepared to the mayor and council on Police Department letterhead dated December 23, 2010. All in hopes of showing them that at least his full time officers were behind him. The “Letter of Confidence” declares that these officers “have all the confidence and faith with not only Chief White himself, but his performance thus far as Chief of Police and have no qualms or concerns in regards to this issue.”
His strategy backfired! Four of the six full time officers refused to sign the document including the chiefs number two man Lt. SD Richards. One officer reportedly signed it only because he was told everyone else would. According to our source, when it appeared only two officers signed the letter, it never made it to the mayor or most council members. Chief White now denies he prepared the letter or knew of its existence.
Another issue, “There is a public safety concern where someone is eventually going to be injured or worse. White is allowing Stalnaker and Steve Poage to fill in for the dispatcher and answer/handle emergency calls without proper training.” Referring to WV Code 24-6-5 (C) that states… “As a condition of continued employment, persons employed to dispatch emergency calls shall successfully complete a forty-hour nationally recognized training course for dispatchers within one-year of the date of their employment.”
“If you have an emergency and call us during normal business hours, chances are you won’t get a live voice at first, you’re actually going to hear a recording that instructs you to dial a specific number for the city department you need.” Here is an example we were given… “Say your spouse is assaulting you and when you call in for help, you hear a recording asking you to press 1 for city hall, 2 for the police department etc etc. By the time you get to a live voice, your abuser has grabbed the receiver and hung it up.” White reportedly won’t transfer the phone lines to the county 911 except for after hours and weekends.
Recently, Elkins police officer Willard Lewis was suspended from duty after being arrested on or about April 4th 2011 for felony kidnapping and domestic abuse. According to the Inter-Mountain newspaper, Lewis had also been involved in 2009 domestic abuse incident with his wife. He has been on the Elkins PD since 2008.
Lewis is not the only Elkins officer arrested for spousal abuse. Former Tucker County WV Chief Deputy, David E Gidley, was hired on the Elkins PD by White after he resigned from the Sheriffs department related to his arrest on misdemeanor domestic battery charges.
At the time of that incident, in August 2009, Gidley was on duty and in police uniform. He reportedly drove out in his police car to confront his estranged wife and in the course of an argument; he grabbed her by the arm hard enough to leave marks, and then chased her around her car while waving his ASP tactical baton and beating on her car with it.
Our sources provided a copy of the “Letter of Confidence” that shows only 2 officers out of the total 8 man department signed on behalf of Chief White. No one we spoke to would go on the record about the turmoil inside the police department. But, they did verify the contents of the above story as being an accurate portrayal of the current problems causing the low morale and no confidence in White as the chief of Police.
One former 30 year veteran officer, Bill Rowe, was allegedly terminated from the PD when he complained about White and problems within the department to city officials. When contacted, he stated he could not comment on the allegations within the police department because of his own possible pending civil suite against the city of Elkins.
Several letters were reportedly written to the Charleston Newspaper and Inter-Mountain in Elkins about the ongoing problems. As of this date, no response has been made and their letters to the editor have not been published.
End of Story
Jack Swint – Publisher
Anyone wishing a copy of the "Letter of Confidence" should e-mail a request to:
Update... As of this date, the state has dropped felony kidnapping charges against Willard Lewis. He still faces misdemeanor dometic related charges. Also, Lewis was never arrested or charged in 2009 for any domestic related crimes as we first reported. There are reports detailing an incident that occured, but no charges were ever filed..
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