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Kush named Weirton’s next police chief

WEIRTON — The city of Weirton soon will have a new chief of police.

During a special meeting held in the Weirton Room of the Millsop Community Center Wednesday morning, Walter Charles Kush was nominated to be the city’s next top cop.

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.

The need for a new chief of police 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.

DiBartolomeo said he began receiving resumes from interested individuals shortly after Alexander’s announcement, and Kush was among those putting his hat into the ring.

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 WVSP 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 the officers of the Weirton Police Department.

“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 offered a nomination of Sgt. Gerard Spencer to fill the post. The nomination received no support from council or the city manager.

While not offering details, DiBartolomeo said he felt 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.

The nomination was made as part of a resolution, citing procedures for filling the position of chief of police as described under Article 3, Section 2B of the city charter.

According to the city charter, the office of chief of police is among those positions which “shall be filled and appointed by the Mayor upon the recommendation of the City Manager with the consent and approval of the Council. All appointments shall be for the duration of the term of the Council or unless sooner removed as hereinafter set forth. Whenever the Mayor shall fail to make any and all appointments under him, as are required to be made by him, for a period of thirty days from the time such appointment shall have been made, after having been requested by Council by resolution so to do, such appointment may be made by the Council. All appointed officers, other than the City Manager, must be residents of the City of Weirton for at least one year prior to their appointment and must continue to reside in the City for the duration of their term.”

A second resolution, notifying the mayor to present an appointment for the chief position, was pulled following the approval of the nomination. The resolution would have established a deadline for Miller to present a new nomination.

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. In the meantime, Lt. Scott Cook will continue serving as senior officer in charge of the Weirton Police Department.

(Howell can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com, and followed via Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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