West Virginia

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020

Summary

Key:

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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Military style training

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Current WV police cadet training curriculum includes 'warrior mindset' training.

SWAT data

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

Some Progress:

In 2020, West Virginia's HB4717 introduced greater accountability measures in the asset forfeiture. Now, local police departments must report 21 data points (property seized, offense leading to seizure, result of case, cost estimates) regarding the seizure to the Auditor General. The Auditor General will produce an annual public report detailing the actions of each local law enforcement department.

Pending Legislation: SB 309 would shift the evidentiary burden from a "preponderance" to one where the state is required to prove the property owner was convicted of a crime and that the seized property had a substantial relationship to the crime committed.

Quotas

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. The most recent public policing review in WV (2008) found that one-third of all state troopers believed they would be demoted for not having a specific number of citations or contacts. Troopers who did not meet the quotas feared relocation, were held up for pay raises, and disciplined in their offices.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering.

Objective justification for stops

Some Progress:

West Virginia is one of sixteen states which bans pre-texutal stops. The state is also one that requires the publication of stop and frisk data. West Virginia's search and consent laws were the model looked to by the New York City Council when NYC moved to address the shortfalls which led to the city's stop and frisk policy. However, West Virginia lacks a comprehensive definition for "racial profiling" needed to truly end unnecessary stops.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). Introduced in 2020, HB 4563 would have required the recording of race, gender, and age in police stops and that data to be publicly disclosed on a quarterly basis. The bill died in committee.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.

Independent investigation

Some Progress:

The West Virginia State Police, not local police departments, lead all investigations of police misconduct. However, the decision to discipline remains with local departments and decisions of charges remain with local prosecutors.

Qualified immunity

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity. However, in a June 2020 decision, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision of a district court and denied an officer's request for qualified immunity in a 2013 shooting. Despite this ruling, qualified immunity remains on the books in West Virginia.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

No Progress:

West Virginia has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, Charlestown hired their first mental health coordinator in July 2020. This individual responsible for coordinating the work of a Mental Health Response Team comprised of City of Charleston staff, mental health experts, homeless shelters and social service providers

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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