It included the following quote:
“Research conducted indicates that a majority of external allegations filed against employees of the West Virginia State Police in 2009 were determined to be either not sustained or unfounded. Furthermore, external complaints have continued to decrease in recent years.”
I called Sgt. Baylous and asked him what the research was and where I could get a copy of it. He said that it was “qualitative” research and not “quantitative” – he said he interviewed Maj. Gordon Ingold, head of the Professional Standards section, which is how he came up with the statement.
He also pointed to the department’s Professional Standards Section report, which is released every year. The Gazette has repeatedly asked for more information than the report gives. It’s why we filed a lawsuit in November.
The press release (which is printed in its entirety at the bottom of this post) appears to tie the number of police officer deaths and assaults thus far this year to media accounts.
Here’s part of the quote by Col. Timothy Pack (pictured above):
From time to time, allegations of police brutality on behalf of the West Virginia State Police have been over-sensationalized by a select few in the media. The deaths of fourteen officers and the recent shootings in both Huntington and St. Albans remind us that enforcing the law is a dangerous task.
I asked Sgt. Baylous for an interview with Pack, who has denied all requests in the past. This is the answer Pack had relayed back to me through Baylous:
“When you apologize about the lies you have written about the State Police, then you will immediately have your interview.”
Baylous said Pack was specifically referring to a Dec. 27 story discussing Roger Wolfe, specifically the first sentence which reads:
There’s a lot Roger Wolfe doesn’t remember about the night in June 2007 when West Virginia State Troopers beat him so bad that cranial fluid leaked from his nose.
Baylous said Pack basically said that isn’t objective reporting. If you haven’t read the story, check it out and let us know what you think.
A couple of other notes about the press release:
- It reports that there have been 17 line-of-duty deaths so far this year. Here’s where Sgt. Baylous is getting that number. It’s the Officers Down Memorial Page, a nonprofit that’s been keeping track of police officer deaths since 1996. It looks to be up to 18 since Baylous last checked.
The release mentions that the FBI’s Law Enforcement Officers Killed and Assaulted data, saying ambush killings have increased 57 percent since 1980. I’m sure that’s in there somewhere (the FBI releases a lot of data) but here’s the most recent FBI figures on the number of officers killed. I think they count them differently than the ODMP.
- Four lawsuits are mentioned as being dismissed in the press release.
“While the filing of these lawsuits received extensive attention from certain media outlets, their final disposition, indicating no wrongdoing on the part of the West Virginia State Police, received very little if any coverage, ” according to the release.
There’s one story in the Gazette archives about Angela Denise Bunting. I mentioned her in a story I did here. Other than that in the Gazette archives I can only find one story on the Wanda Carney lawsuit written by the Associated Press and nothing on the other two cases mentioned.
- The release also mentions a story from the New York Times about Chicago’s plan to litigate all charges against police.
“Plaintiffs’ attorneys sometimes file weak or baseless suits in an attempt to receive a quick settlement or as leverage to counter criminal charges. … The Chicago Police Department is taking a new approach to combat the onslaught of baseless lawsuits,” the press release states.
I don’t know if that’s the State Police’s new tactic, too. Roger Wolfe’s case stretched out for more than a year and he received $200,001.
UPDATE: My friend and cubicle neighbor Andrew Clevenger mentioned that there was a hearing today on in the Derek Snavely case. Snavely is the former State Trooper, who is now chief in Hinton. A woman is suing him and the State Police, alleging she was sexually assaulted by Snavely in 2008 while he was in uniform.
Andrew, who attended the hearing, said Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jim Stucky thew out the civil rights charge against Snavely and the department, but allowed the remaining claims to proceed to trial.
In July I reported on how Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants didn’t know Snavely falsified his duty log when he made the decision not to prosecute the officer.
In response to a series of questions from the woman’s lawyer, Mike Clifford, State Police said Snavely clearly altered his duty log:
“It is apparent that he falsified that log from the time that he met with Plaintiff until the end of his shift. Upon information and belief, the actions represented prior to Defendant Snavely’s involvement with Plaintiff are accurate.”
Here’s the whole press release: