VSP training officer encouraged Austin Edwards to apply for job closer to home
Austin Lee Edward’s field training officer with the Virginia State Police encouraged him to apply for a job closer to home “so he would be happier,” according to Edward’s application for employment with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office , Virginia.
CBS 6 obtained the application through a public records request.
Edwards applied for the job in September while still working as a VSP trooper in Henrico.
He got the job in Washington County and, just days after starting the job in November, he traveled to California and killed three family members of a 15-year-old girl he kidnapped before killing himself.
Edwards worked as a VSP soldier for just nine months after completing the training academy.
In his application to Washington County, Edwards said he hoped to start a new job closer to home.
For his three references, he listed his father, a close friend, and his VSP field training officer. Each wrote something in support of Edwards.
His father wrote, “They had him removed to Richmond, which he was fine with, but I am glad he is applying somewhere near home, much safer here anyway.”
Dr. William Pelfrey, who is a professor of criminal justice at Virginia Commonwealth University, said reference letters usually come from professionals, such as a supervisor or a professor.
“There’s no use in a letter from a parent. The assumption is that it’s going to be positive,” Pelfrey said.
In our previous reporting, we learned that officers in Abingdon, Virginia committed Edwards to a mental health facility in 2016 after he threatened to kill himself and his father.
We also obtained Edwards’ polygraph results from a whistleblower, which indicates Edwards told a VSP polygraph examiner during a pre-test interview that he voluntarily checked into a mental health facility in 2016.
VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller said human error led to Edwards’ hiring at VSP.
In Edwards’ application to Washington County, his VSP field training officer wrote that Austin had been “very happy with his work with the Virginia State Police” and said his only complaint was the distance of his distant from the family.
The officer wrote that he encouraged Edwards to apply somewhere closer to home so he would be happier.
“You would expect people to stay with an agency for more than a year, because an agency invests a lot of money in recruiting, training and then fielding a new officer, so it’s a serious waste for an agency of re when someone leaves earlier than three. up to four years,” Pelfrey said.
Geller said there is no requirement that soldiers stay a certain amount of time after being hired.
Virginia Washington Sheriff Blake Andis previously said in a statement that “past employers and the Virginia State Police were contacted during the hiring process; however, neither employer disclosed any harassment, reprimand or internal investigation regarding Edwards”.
When CBS 6 reporter Melissa Hipoli spoke to Andis on the phone, he said they did a pretty intensive background check, but declined to discuss Edwards’ hiring process.
Andis said the fact that Edwards worked as a state trooper gave him a lot of credibility.
“It seems like Washington County just assumed that the Virginia State Police did a thorough background check when there were serious oversights in their investigation, and then Washington County made it worse by also not doing a sufficient background check on the applicant, Pelfrey said.
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