BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — Beckley Police Department will send the latest class of recruits to the Fairmont State University Police Academy, a new police training program.

The Fairmont State program was developed with input from West Virginia law enforcement officers trained by the Federal Bureau of Investigations. The advisory board is influenced by law enforcement professionals, with input from the West Virginia Human Rights Commission and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, according to data on the Fairmont State website.

The 16-week program also has an academic component and integrates the importance of tolerance and interpersonal skills into the tactical police training program, according to information published on the website.

“It’s kind of revolutionary, and it came about because of a relationship our deputy chief, Dave Allard, had with a fellow representative of the federal government law enforcement,” Beckley Mayor Rob Rappold said on Thursday, January 12, 2023.

The new police academy is the second in the state.

Rappold emphasized he has no qualms about the training at the West Virginia State Police Academy in Institute, which has trained thousands of West Virginia officers for municipal departments, sheriff’s departments and the State Police. He said the presence of a second program could reduce wait times many agencies experience while recruits train.

“They are receiving applications from all over the state, from all 55 counties, and if we hire an officer, let’s say in June, it may be October or November before they can go to the Academy,” said Rappold.

Rappold said Beckley Police Department has one of the state’s highest percentage of officers who are trained by the FBI, including Allard and the current police chief, Dean Bailey as well as former chief, Lonnie Christian.

With a number of police departments reporting a shortage of recruits, Rappold said BPD strives to maintain 58 officers to serve the town of 17,000.