RICHMOND, Va. (WJHL) – Virginia State Police (VSP) officials said “human error” led to the hiring of Austin Edwards, a deceased Washington County deputy accused of killing three people before kidnapping a teenage girl.
According to a release from VSP, an administrative review was launched after agency officials learned of the allegations against Edwards. The results of that review, the release said, show that “human error” resulted in an incomplete search of database records. News Channel 11 previously requested specific answers as to how Temporary Detention Orders like the one used to commit Edwards into mental care in 2016 would be found, but VSP’s response did not answer these questions.
“At no point during the hiring process or during his 15 months with the department did
Edwards disclose any incidents that would have disqualified him from employment,” the release said.
In order to identify other possible errors, VSP officials said an audit of existing personnel records and practices is underway.
“Although we believe this to be an isolated incident,” VSP stated in the release. “Steps are currently underway to ensure the error is not repeated going forward.”
VSP officials elaborated on their hiring process in the release, stating that a ‘thorough’ background check is mandatory for any hiring and involves written, psychological, physical and polygraph testing.
“During the background investigation phase of the employment process, the department obtains and documents detailed information regarding the applicant’s background, criminal history, ability and integrity to ensure the most highly qualified and suitable applicants are approved for employment,” the release said.
VSP officials did not specify which records or incidents might be checked during an applicant’s hiring process.
As a probationary employee, Edwards was evaluated every month in accordance with VSP policy, the release said, and at no time exhibited any red flags to trigger internal or criminal investigations.
Edwards resigned from his post with VSP in October 2022 and was in the process of moving to patrol duty with the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office when he allegedly traveled to California and committed the reported string of violent felonies.