November 3, 2017
correctional officer recruiter; new director to focus on minorities
W.Va. – A lifelong public safety trail-blazer has accepted a new
challenge: help West Virginia find and keep correctional officers.
Joseph M. “Joe” Tyree has been named
Director of Correctional Recruiting by Military Affairs and Public Safety
Secretary Jeff Sandy.
This Cabinet department includes the
state’s prison, jail and juvenile justice systems. At these facilities, West
Virginia requires around 2,300 correctional officers to perform a public safety
mission as critical as it is challenging. However, one in four of these
positions is vacant.
“As our vision, we have to start marketing
these positions not as a job but as the beginning of a career,” said Tyree, who
began late last month. “We need to look at the long play, and not just the
With the support of Governor Jim Justice,
Secretary Sandy recently secured a $2,080-a-year, across-the-board pay raise
for all seven classifications of correctional officers. Secretary Sandy also won
approval for a return to the traditional overtime rule for officers.
Echoing Secretary Sandy, Tyree stressed
that more must be done to improve conditions for officers as well as
non-uniform staff. From revisiting personnel rules to legislative action, Tyree
said only meaningful changes will counter the ongoing staffing crisis.
all have to come to the understanding that we’re a team, from the secretary all
the way down to the rookie,” Tyree said. “It’s all a team effort, if we want to
make sure the brightest and the best get in, and that we keep them.”
Secretary Sandy has also asked Tyree to
focus particularly on attracting minority applicants. Tyree plans to enlist the
minority faith community, by visiting churches and appealing to the parents of
potential minority candidates who are at or nearing college age. The goal is
also to recruit and develop mentors in mid- and upper-level management
“It is very important that when we bring a
young man or a young woman in, he or she can look up and say ‘I can be this
guy, I can be a shift supervisor or I can be a warden,’ because they see
someone there who looks like them,” Tyree said.
Tyree’s career in public service began in
1970, when he joined the U.S. Air Force and became a Security Police Law
Enforcement Specialist. During his seven years in the Air Force, Tyree was
stationed around the world while earning a commendation medal for meritorious service
as well as both Airman of the Month and Airman of the Quarter honors at his
Tyree then joined the West Virginia State
Police. He graduated with the historic 32nd Cadet Class – the first to complete
the State Police Academy with more than one female or African-American cadet.
“There were five black male cadets and
four white female cadets,” Tyree recalled.
Tyree’s 21-year career with the State Police
included several firsts for African-Americans: as a law enforcement officer in
Putnam County, when he was stationed out of the Winfield detachment; and later
when assigned to the Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI). He also served on
special assignments and federal task forces, and on the Executive Protection detail
for Gov. Gaston Caperton. He retired in 1999, while supervisor of the Workers’
Compensation Fraud Unit.
Tyree remained in public safety by
overseeing Putnam County’s juvenile diversion program, and later as Coordinator
of the West Virginia Motorcycle Safety Program at the Governor’s Highway Safety
Born and raised on Charleston’s East End, Tyree
has called Putnam County his home since 1979. He and his wife of 33 years, have
four children, ten grandchildren and three great grandchildren. He is also an
uncle to State Fire Marshal Ken Tyree.