W.Va. city's proclamation asks for reimbursement from agencies that hire officers trained by city

Under the proclamation, if a government entity hires a police officer within two years of their training, that hiring entity must reimburse the agency for training costs

Kathy Plum
The Dominion Post

KINGWOOD, W.Va. — Kingwood Council is going statewide in its fight to force agencies that lure trained workers away to repay the town that paid for the training.

The biggest problem is with police officers, but it can extend to such trained workers as water technicians, Recorder Bill Robertson said at Tuesday’s meeting.

Council unanimously approved a proclamation, “in support of addressing the municipal league on what can be done to avoid the cannibalization between inter-state agencies.”

Mayor Jean Guillot brought the idea to council. He proposed introducing a state law based on a South Carolina law that says if a government entity hires a police officer within two years of the officer being hired and trained, the hiring entity must reimburse the other agency.

Under the South Carolina law, it would pay 100% of the cost of training the officer, including the officer’s salary paid during the training period and other training expenses incurred while the officer was attending mandatory training, if the officer is hired within one year of the date of completion of the mandatory training.

That falls to 50% if the officer is hired after one year but before the end of the second year after the date of completing mandatory training.

Kingwood is trying to recoup the costs of training from former Officer J.T. Knotts, who gave the town his two weeks notice after completing training. He now works for the Preston County Sheriff’s Department.

The town billed Knotts $5,649.95, based on a contract he signed when hired. So far no payments have been made on the bill. Council is working with its attorney on the matter.

Guillot said last week another agency has already tried to hire the town’s latest police hire, Officer G. McNemar, who was introduced to council Tuesday night.

Guillot said he has contacted the West Virginia Municipal League to be on the agenda of its next meeting.

“It is an issue that’s rampant with all kinds of municipalities all across the state,” the mayor said.

By going through the league, “we’ve got a whole lobbying organization in place,” Guillot said. His hope is a bill could be introduced at the next legislative session.

“I think it’s a great idea, and I think we should get other municipalities to do a letter,” of support, Councilman Josh Fields said.

The vote on the proclamation was unanimous, with Councilmen Mike Lipscomb and Dick Shaffer absent.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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