WHEELING - Robert Shawn Schwertfeger was sworn in as the City of Wheeling's police chief this morning, marking new leadership for the city's law enforcement.
In a ceremony held at the First State Capitol Building, Schwertfeger was sworn in before his law enforcement colleagues, as well as numerous city and county officials.
"It's an honor to have been selected to be the chief of police for the City of Wheeling," Schwertfeger said. "I'm looking forward to getting started this afternoon and I take this responsibility very seriously. It is with honor that I will be serving as your police chief."
Wheeling City Clerk Janice Jones administers the swearing-in oath for the city’s new police chief, Robert Shawn Schwertfeger today at the First State Capitol Building.
Schwertfeger said his immediate priorities include conducting an assessment of the police department, but noted it appears few changes need to be made.
Coming from Virginia, Schwertfeger added, he must begin studying the West Virginia criminal code, as well as city ordinances.
As of this morning, he had not yet had an opportunity to address the members of his staff in person, but said he will allow things to operate as they have been while he familiarizes himself with the department and the community.
"I'm looking forward to his tenure as our police chief," City Manager Robert Herron said of Schwertfeger. "I think he's going to do an outstanding job."
His prior experience, performance in the interview and assessment processes, as well as his ties to the local area made Schwertfeger the top candidate for the job, Herron added.
Deputy Police Chief Martin Kimball said he believes Schwertfeger brings a disciplined approach, which will strengthen the department in areas it is lacking.
"I'm looking forward to working under him and I'm sure he'll provide some great leadership," Kimball commented.
Schwertfeger, a Moundsville native, succeeds former Police Chief Robert Matheny, who left the department in March to take a job with the National White Collar Crime Center in Fairmont.
Schwertfeger most recently served as captain of the Albemarle County, Va., Police Department Operations Bureau, which consists of four divisions and about 100 personnel.
He also held a command position with the ACPD for eight years, serving as lieutenant for three separate divisions.
The ACPD is headquartered in Albemarle, Va., a city of about 43,500, and it also serves the University of Virginia and its approximately 21,000 students. His move to Wheeling takes him from a jurisdiction covering about 740 square miles of both urban and rural areas to one of 14-16 square miles.
Schwertfeger graduated from John Marshall High School in 1984, earned a bachelor's degree in criminal justice from the former West Liberty State College in 1989 and is a 2009 graduate of the FBI National Academy.
Robert Herron selected Schwertfeger from a slate of nine candidates, both internal and external, who went through the selection process.
During the transition period, Deputy Chief Mike VanKirk served as interim chief, which he also did for about three months during the last search for a new chief in 2009, when Kevin Gessler left the department to become police chief in Sidney, Ohio.