CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety is no more.
Beginning Thursday, the agency became the West Virginia Department of Homeland Security, and the name change came with an altered mission.
Secretary Jeff Sandy said the most significant change involves the West Virginia National Guard; the body now reports directly to the governor instead of acting within the department.
“The remaining agencies with Homeland Security deal with the safety and security of our citizens, from our jails to our Fire Marshal’s Office, State Police, and the new Division of Emergency Management, which was previously the Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management,” Sandy said.
The alteration is the result of Senate Bill 586, which the state Legislature passed earlier this year at Gov. Jim Justice’s request.
The State Fire Marshal’s Office will no longer report to the State Fire Commission, which previously hired the fire marshal. The governor will be responsible for making that appointment from a list submitted by the state Fire Commission.
The change also involves a new Office of Administrative Hearings, which will be responsible for overseeing initial grievance proceedings except for the West Virginia State police and most appeals from the fire marshal and state Fire Commission.
Legislation to go into effect in June will move the state Parole Board to the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
Future plans involve a program providing training to local and county emergency managers based on the FBI National Academy.