New Officers Start Training

Many law enforcement hopefuls have found the rigors of the West Virginia State Police Academy too much to bear, but Wheeling Police Chief Shawn Schwertfeger has no doubt the four new hires he’s sending to its latest class are ready for the challenge.

Ramsey Lesnett, Rachel Boyer, Jason Hupp and Jared Korbini all begin the 16-week training program in Institute, W.Va., just west of Charleston, today. The department also is welcoming a fifth new member, Don Shriner, but as the most recent hire he must wait for admission to the State Police Academy’s next class due to space limitations.

Lesnett and Boyer both are originally from the Pittsburgh area, while Hupp, Korbini and Shriner all are from the Ohio Valley. Lesnett is joining his brother, Walter, on the force.

Schwertfeger said he visited the academy last fall and found it to be an excellent test of who is cut out for law enforcement and who isn’t. Many don’t make it. About half the class he observed had dropped out after several weeks, he said.

“It’s very paramilitary. It’s very physically demanding. … There will be several people who will wash out,” Schwertfeger said, expressing his full confidence that Wheeling’s new recruits will persevere.

Most new Wheeling officers will spend about 14 weeks in the department’s field training program after graduating from the State Police Academy. However, Lesnett and Boyer already have completed their field training because they had to wait for admission to the academy after being hired several months ago. Schwertfeger said Shriner will follow a similar path as he awaits admission.

“We wish them well,” Schwertfeger said.

He noted the city is not increasing the size of its force with the new hires; instead it is filling positions vacated by retirements and other departures.

The new additions have exhausted the Police Civil Service Commission’s list of potential hires, and beginning today applications will be accepted for the department’s next round of testing June 1, Schwertfeger said. Anyone interested should call the city Human Resources Department at 304-234-3694.

“There’s such turnover in law enforcement that we’re always looking to hire,” Schwertfeger said.

Applicants to take the test must meet the following requirements: be 18 to 40 years of age; have attained a high school diploma or GED equivalent; posess a valid driver’s license; be free of convictions for domestic assault or battery, DUI or any felony; be a United States citizen and a resident of Wheeling, Ohio County or approved areas of Brooke or Marshall counties.