PRINCETON — A longtime trooper with the West Virginia State Police has made a transition from retirement to the role of chief deputy in the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office.

Former Sergeant Alan Christian, of Princeton, retired from the state police on July 30 and took up his new duties at the courthouse on August 2.

Although he’s been a familiar face in the southern West Virginia law enforcement community for more than two decades, Christian believes his new role will allow him to focus his efforts on the needs of Mercer County.

“I don’t consider myself a political person, so it’s a bit different from what I’m used to,” he said. “It will allow me to represent and protect here in Mercer County. I’m here to make the sheriff’s department the best it can be.

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Christian said the sheriff’s department currently has 25 deputies. Sixteen of them are in the field, while others work in the detective office, as judicial security or in administrative positions.

The department currently has three new recruits, and Christian said they will be testing again soon.

“Some will go for higher aspirations,” he said. “It’s an ever-evolving field. We replace and train, and try to keep the best assistants we can. It’s hard to keep good MPs here when they can make more money elsewhere.

Christian himself is a perfect example. He began his career with the Princeton Police Department in 1996 before joining the State Police in 1999. He served as a field soldier from 2001 to 2012 before being promoted to sergeant.

As a sergeant, he was assigned to the Welch Detachment for a time before returning to Princeton in the role of Deputy Detachment Commander.

In July 2021, a month before his retirement, he was promoted to detachment commander.

Christian served in the military prior to his career in law enforcement.

After graduating from Princeton High School in 1987, Christian was an athlete who played football for the school.

“We had an exceptional football team that year. We went upstate, but unfortunately lost to Brook,” he recalled.

“I went from a high school football family, to a military family, to a family with the Princeton Police Department, and then to the State Police family,” he said. “I’ve been in a camaraderie since high school.”

Christian noted that the State Police is a tight-knit family. “Once you become a soldier, you are part of this family for life.”

This extended family, he says, is great for guidance.

“One of my best friends from grade school, who I went to high school with and played football with, is now in Homeland Security in Washington,” he said.

Former soldiers also serve as current sheriffs in Greenbrier and Raleigh counties.

In Mercer County, District Attorney Brian Cochran is a former soldier, as is Magistrate Mike Crowder.

“That’s a lot of knowledge that I can tap into,” Christian said.

Christian said his plan is to run for sheriff in the next term.

Current Sheriff Tommy Bailey – whom Christian has known since college – will not be eligible to run then as he has served two terms.

Christian said it was former Mercer County Sheriff Don Meadows — who was also a former state trooper — who first mentioned to him that he should run for sheriff.

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Serving as a soldier for just under 22 years, Christian said he has worked on many memorable cases.

“I had several, some murders,” he recalls. “One was the Danny Perkins child sex abuse case. And I helped (former assistant district attorney) Paige Flanagan find a missing child once – they were about to cross the border into Canada.

Unfortunately, Christian said, many of the crimes that stand out are cold cases that have not been solved.

“I have a lot of memories – some good, some bad,” he said.

“One of the best I remember was the Ohio serial killer we caught behind the Walmart in Princeton,” Christian said, describing the arrest as “very satisfying.”

“Sergeant. Pat Shrewsbury and I went looking for him for two days,” Christian said. “We were actually in the helicopter and had a bird’s eye view when he was captured.”

Christian and State Police Sgt. Shrewsbury has a long history.

“I was Pat’s training officer and now he’s the detachment commander at Princeton,” Christian said. “He took my place, but that relieves me a little. It’s a bit bittersweet to retire, but everyone has to move on and now everyone under you is progressing.

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Christian praised the sheriff’s office deputies and said his goal is to make the department one of the best in the state.

“I am grateful for the opportunity Sheriff Tommy Bailey has given me,” he said. “If he thinks I can come in and contribute, that’s a good feeling.

“Hopefully we can earn the trust of the community and that they will know that we are there for them, and that we can help them in ways other than law enforcement,” Christian said, adding, “We We have a terrific group of guys here.

— Contact Samantha Perry at [email protected]

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