By BILL ARCHER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
When the West Virginia State Troopers Association announced that Cpl. A. P. “Allen” Christian of the Princeton Detachment had been selected first runner-up for the annual “Trooper of the Year” award, one thought popped into his mind.
“My wife, Cynthia, ought to be first,” Christian, 43, said. “I don’t think people realize the kind of sacrifices that state troopers and their families have to make in order to pursue a career in law enforcement.
“My wife has had to be the mommy and daddy to our kids, manage the household, work and take care of all the problems that come up every day,” Christian said. “If I was second, to me, she had to be first.”
Allen and Cynthia Christian traveled to Morgantown on Aug. 4, for the dinner at Waterfront Place honoring Trooper of the Year nominees. Christian answered 660 calls this year, and has played a part in some of Mercer County’s most high-profile cases including the arrest of Samuel K. Littleton, charged in the triple homicide of Tiffany Brown, 26, Richard Russell, 84, and his wife Gladys Russell, 85.
“I really don’t think about the cases I’ve worked,” Christian said. “I try to do the best that I can on every investigation. It is a great honor to be recognized by your peers. My wife and I went up, had a nice dinner and enjoyed the program.
“I work evening and night shifts, and I spend a lot of days in court,” Christian said. “Some weeks, I’m lucky to get home long enough to mow the yard. Working as a trooper isn’t an 8-hour day. Most people don’t understand that, but my wife does, and I can’t say how much I appreciate that.”
Trooper First Class James Steven Pauley, formerly with the Parkersburg Detachment but now of the South Charleston detachment was named Trooper of the Year and Sgt. Gregory L. Stalnaker, Elkins Detachment Commander was named second runner up. In May, Stalnaker had been named “Trooper of the Year” by the American Association of State Troopers.
Sgt. James Stout, Troop 4 representative, said he was honored to make the presentations. “A few years ago, I was nominated as Trooper of the Year and I was the second runner up,” Stout said. “I know people might say it, but I was deeply honored to be recognized by my peers. It was special to be standing there with my wife and being honored for the year of work I had completed. I appreciated it more than anything.”
Stout said that he was nearly overwhelmed by emotion when he recognized Sgt. Stalnaker. He said that U.S. Marshal Derek Hotspiller’s father gave him his first job in law enforcement in Bridgeport, and said that he always treated him with respect. “It was tough when I heard that his boy had died,” he said.
He said that some people questioned how the national Trooper of the Year would be the second runner up in the state. “The state recognition is awarded on a different criteria from the national award. The state award is from January to January, and while Sgt. Stalnaker’s incredible act of bravery under fire was worthy of being honored, the body of work that Pauley and Christian had through the entire year was also outstanding,” Stout said. “Once I explained it, people understood.”
Christian is a native of Princeton, and a 1987 graduate of Princeton Senior High School. He entered the U.S. Army after completing high school, and served four years and one month, completing his military career as a helicopter crew chief.
After receiving his discharge from the Army, he took a job as an officer with the Princeton Police Department, and while there, he graduated from the 99th Basic Class at the State Police Academy.
When he was accepted in the State Police, he graduated in the 49th Cadet Class and after being stationed in Beckley for a year, he has spent the rest of his career at the Princeton Detachment.
“I treat people fair,” Christian said. “I always have. Even the ones who get mad at me when I arrest them, I still treat them fair.”
— Contact Bill Archer at firstname.lastname@example.org