Recruits learn the basics at State Police Academy


Cops are faced with life and death situations on a regular basis.There is training to keep these soon-to-be officers and deputies ready to encounter any situation.

Sergeant Joseph Portaro is the deputy training director at the West Virginia State Police Academy. He said the Academy helps the recruits prepare for the job.

“We give them the foundation here,” Portaro said. “We get them certified through the Law Enforcement Professional Standards Committee to become a police officer. When they hit the road, the week after they graduate, that’s when they’re going to start learning. The first time that they make a traffic stop, the first time they go to a domestic, or the first time they go to a felony call and they may have to get out a weapon. They have to make a decision. Do I use pepper spray, do I go hands on, or God forbid, I have to use my firearm?”

One of the recruits who will be hitting the streets after graduation from the Academy is 23-year-old Joseph Stewart II. Stewart is a Beckley native and soon he’ll be patrolling the neighborhoods he grew up in, as an officer for Beckley Police. 

“I’ve heard a lot about the pros and cons about working in the town I grew up in,” Stewart said. “I was actually kind of happy to be around the people I grew up with. But it’s also going to be tough, because people will expect me to do them favors, since I’m working in the town I grew up in.”

Stewart will not be hitting the streets of Beckley alone. He’ll be joining the force alongside his father. Joseph Stewart Senior, has been in law enforcement for nearly 13 years. He’s serves as a patrolman with Beckley PD.

“I’m proud of him, Stewart Sr. said. “I’m proud, for one, that he’s serving his country. Being a parent, you worry about your children. Especially, carrying a gun and badge in this profession. He’s went from being a boy to a grown man. This profession take a moral character, ethical character. I’m proud of him being at this police department that represents all of that.”

With the backing of his new police family, Stewart hopes he and his department can make a difference in the community. 

“I feel like I can help out, Stewart II said. “It’s going to take more than just an individual, we’ve got to come together and get everyone involved and try to put a stop to it, or at least minimize it in Beckley and surrounding areas.”

Stewart is set to graduate from the Academy on December 18th, he’ll then begin his training with Beckley Police just a few days later.

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