By Charlotte Lane
Whenever you see a large truck pulled over to the side of the interstate or the turnpike, you probably see a silver law enforcement cruiser behind it. The officer driving that cruiser is one of the Public Service Commission Enforcement Officers. They patrol West Virginia’s highways in search of commercial motor vehicles, such as semis and buses that are not operating safely.
All our officers complete a 16-week training class at the West Virginia State Police Academy and are trained in the use of firearms. They are also required to pass mandatory psychological evaluations before they can be hired. Many of our officers are former municipal police officers, State Troopers or military personnel. Some studied criminal justice in college. But every single one of them is a trained and certified law enforcement officer for the State of West Virginia.
PSC officers focus primarily on ensuring that commercial motor vehicles and drivers are in compliance with the federal and state regulations that keep our roadways safe. Officers conduct inspections, issue warnings and tickets and, when necessary, place drivers and vehicles out of service until the problems are corrected. However, they must also be prepared to deal with the same types of situations any other law enforcement officer might encounter.
At the end of his shift at the PSC weigh station in Winfield recently, one of our officers noticed a truck that, rather than pulling into the weigh station as it was required to do, kept heading down I-64. Our officer gave chase and when he pulled the truck over discovered three large boxes containing over 100 pounds of marijuana.
Our officers have rescued human trafficking victims and disarmed angry drivers. They have responded to domestic disturbance calls that happen within the confines of a semi-truck. They deal with drivers who are intoxicated or otherwise too impaired to be on the road. In 2021, our officers inspected over 17,400 trucks and buses and participated in numerous joint operations and blitzes to increase highway safety. The Governor’s Highway Safety Program named the Public Service Commission the Top Specialized Enforcement Unit for 2019-2021.
We are extraordinarily proud of the fine officers of the Public Service Commission who dedicate their careers and put their lives on the line in order to keep our state’s highways safe for the traveling public.