The overall crime rate in Huntington is almost twice as high (609.8 per 100,000) as the national average (315.9/100,000). Thefts represent the greatest number of crimes; however, the number of thefts has decreased since the year 2000, as has the number of auto thefts, assaults and arson.
Nonetheless, the number of murders, rapes, robberies and burglaries has increased in spite of a declining population, which keeps the dedicated Huntington Police Department (HPD) criminal investigators very busy.
The numbers of cases investigated by each unit in 2013 are 793, 1,919, 1,108 and 159 respectively. It is noted that the Crimes against Property Unit recovered $414,537 in stolen property in 2013. Detectives receive special training related to the units to which they are assigned.
Becoming a Criminal Investigator with the Huntington Police Department
The Huntington Police Department, founded in 1872, has a staff that includes 106 sworn officers, 16 of which work as special investigators. The Criminal Investigations Bureau, headed by Captain John Ellis, handles all day-to-day investigative assignments. The detectives are divided among four units:
- Violent crimes
- Crimes against property
- Family crimes
- Forensic services
Satisfying the Qualifications – Detectives with the Criminal Investigations Bureau come up the ranks of the HPD. The following are the minimum eligibility requirements for becoming an HPD officer:
- U.S. citizen
- Between the ages of 18 and 40
- In good physical condition
- High school graduate or GED equivalent*
- No criminal record
*Although only a high school diploma is required, any college-level studies give the applicant an edge over the competition. A major in criminal justice or law enforcement management is especially advantageous. West Virginia has 21 four-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees and 21 two-year schools offering associate’s degrees.
Applicants whose applications are accepted are required to take the following tests.
- Civil service general knowledge written test
- Physical agility test (27 sit-ups and 18 push-ups in one minute each and a 1.5 mile run in 15 minutes, 20 seconds)
- Background investigation
- Medical examination
- Battery of psychological tests
Individuals who pass all tests must successfully complete an oral interview before beginning training.
Training – All recruits are trained in firearms proficiency and defensive tactics with an annual review and firearms test. In addition, all officers take 16 hours of training in defensive driving techniques and police pursuit intervention. Special courses are required for detectives working in specific units, including:
- Advanced domestic violence
- Interview and interrogation techniques
- Criminal investigation management
How to Apply – Open recruitment is held at various times during the year. The dates are posted on the HPD employment website, along with details about the hiring process. Applications are available at the Huntington City Clerk’s Office, 800 Fifth Avenue, Room 16; Huntington; telephone 304-696-5530.
Completed application forms must be sent to Sgt. Mike Chornobay, Training Coordinator, 675 10th St., Huntington, WV 25701. Sgt. Chornobay can be called at 304-696-5560, Ext. 1044.
The starting salary for HPD officers is $36,229/year. Benefits include paid overtime, life, medical, vision and prescription insurance, pension program and a credit union.