Kush New Weirton Police Chief
WEIRTON — Last week, city council refused to act on the nomination of Weirton police Sgt. Gerard Spencer to be the next police chief. On Wednesday, council quickly approved the hiring of West Virginia State Police First Sgt. Walter Charles Kush to the post.
The nomination from Mayor Harold Miller included a recommendation from City Manager Joe DiBartolomeo and received a unanimous roll-call vote from council.
“I spoke to Charlie and he’s willing to accept,” Miller said following the vote.
Miller also nominated Spencer during last week’s meeting, but no one on council moved his nomination to the floor. Spencer, if he had been hired, would have been Weirton’s first African-American chief of police.
The need for a new chief follows the Sept. 4 retirement of former chief Rob Alexander, who departed the city after 26 years of service to take a position with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department.
Kush is a lifelong resident of the city, with 26 years of service with the West Virginia State Police. He has held the rank of first sergeant since 2015.
His work has included several stints with the state police road patrol and time with the Ohio Valley Drug Task Force. Current duties include working as a polygraph examiner with the Bureau of Criminal Investigation and as an instructor in courses of interviewing and interrogation at the West Virginia State Police Academy.
DiBartolomeo noted he reached out to a variety of officials throughout the state as part of the screening process.
“They said Charlie Kush is your man,” he said.
Through his work with the West Virginia State Police, DiBartolomeo said, Kush has worked alongside many of Weirton’s officers.
“He knows most of these guys,” DiBartolomeo said. “He’s not an unknown entity.”
Wednesday’s vote came a week after council’s Oct. 13 meeting, during which Miller nominated Spencer to fill the post. The nomination received no support from council or the city manager.
While not offering details, DiBartolomeo said Wednesday he believed it was important to look outside the ranks of the Weirton Police Department for its next chief because of some ongoing concerns.
“We’ve had some issues. We still have issues,” DiBartolomeo said.
Six members of council attended the meeting in person, with Ward 1 Councilman Tim Connell participating by phone.
DiBartolomeo said Kush is set to retire from the West Virginia State Police in early December, and will be sworn into office in Weirton soon after.