FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Graduation, as well as training, at the Fairmont Police Academy has been put on hold for four basic trainee officers because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Two of these trainees were suppose to graduate from the academy on April 24, and two others were suppose to begin their training on April 13. COVID-19 has halted all activity at the Fairmont Police Academy and this pause is causing these future officers from getting out on the road.
“Basically, it’s impacting our agency having four officers not being able to get requisite mandatory training, to get on the road and become successful solo units,” said Fairmont Chief of Police, Steve Shine.
Finding qualified applicants isn’t the hard part, according to officials, but with the police academy paused, getting people through the hiring process, academy and on the road is being stopped until things surrounding COVID-19 get back on schedule.
The Coronavirus outbreak is having a small impact on the department, but Chief Shine said if this goes on for months without an active academy, they can see future suffering. Being unable to teach new officers with the proper training will hurt. Some things can’t be taught in a classroom, only out in the field.
“We need to get officers on the road, and just because the police academy stopped, the sickness that’s out there and the exposure for officers doesn’t reduce. We need to make sure we are filling those needed positions as quickly as we can,” said Chief Shine. “Hopefully the police academy is doing something to try to fill those needs we have for well-trained officers.”
Additional measures are being taken to keep everyone clean and safe from being exposed to the virus. Sanitation is a part of whenever an officer is involved with other people from something like a traffic stop to making an arrest.
As far as the academy goes, it is currently working with the idea of online classes for those far enough along to graduate with all the proper credentials. These online classes however will not be allowed for the initial stages of training.