Born and raised in Lewis County, Lewis County Sheriff’s Department Cpl. Eli Carpenter knew he always wanted to work in public service.
“I went back and forth on what I wanted to do,” he said.
His roots run deep here. His parents still live in Lewis County, and his grandfather owned WV Glass Factory, which was located on Rt. 19 South in Weston.
Carpenter has worked for the LCSD for five years. He and fellow colleague, Deputy Jeb Tonkin, are childhood friends who both applied for jobs at the Clarksburg Police Department.
Before the CPD could get back in touch with Carpenter, though, he had been contacted by the LCSD and accepted a job there. LCSD Sheriff Adam Gissy said Carpenter was the first deputy he hired over five years ago. “He has been the proverbial ‘measuring stick’ for every deputy hired since,” Gissy said. Tonkin remained at the CPD for a few years before joining the LCSD himself.
Because of growing up here, Carpenter knows many people in the county, including some he sometimes comes in contact with over the course of his job. He said he has not encountered a problem. “I’m trained to be a professional, and I love working here” he said.
Carpenter is a professional, and sets an example for other officers. “He is an instinctive leader who has earned the respect of everyone in the profession,” Gissy said.
Most recently, Carpenter served as the lead investigator for Lewis County in the Lena Lunsford Conaway case. He said working on it was both overwhelming and intimidating. He added, “We’re lucky we don’t have a lot of cases like that.”
Although the case was daunting, Carpenter was able to work with and gain experience from seasoned officers. He said, “I’m grateful for the experience of working with qualified officers, like WVSP First Sgt. Sean Wolfe, WVSP Sgt. Shannon Loudin, FBI Special Agent Fred Aldridge, and many others.”
Carpenter’s aunt, Dianne Davisson, is proud of her nephew, and everything he has accomplished. She said, “I still look at him as my little nephew, but I also look at him as a great man and a great asset to the county. I’m very proud of him.”
Davisson said she hears from people in the community about Carpenter’s professionalism, which makes her proud, as well. “I just love him. He’s got such a good heart,” she added.
Davisson does, however, worry about him, saying, “I pray for his safety all the time.”
When Carpenter had the chance to test for Cpl. he took it, and passed. This took him off the Criminal Investigation Division and into a more supervisory role.
Carpenter worked on the CID for a few years, dealing with major crimes and drug cases. He said working the CID meant working all hours of the day or night. He said when a call came, he responded. Cpl.’s hours are more “normal” in comparison, he added, and admitted to liking the adrenaline rush he gets when a call comes in, especially on night shift.
Carpenter said he has to be cautious about becoming jaded to some things. “But you can’t be complacent, you always have to be a little scared,” he said.
Having a cautious attitude when working, he said during the course of a shift his heart rate could increase 10 times, depending on the calls that come in.
Carpenter is still a member of the SWAT team. They are currently in the process of building back to a full seven man team.
Seeing his share of crime, Carpenter has his favorite parts of his job. “Kids and the elderly,” he said.
He hates seeing the defenseless, he said, but likes being able to help them. Seeing the change in children from fear to affection is also important and gratifying. Carpenter stated, “Little kids are the best.”
Carpenter, a Fairmont State University graduate with two bachelor’s degrees in Political Science and National Security Intelligence, loves WV and being a local police officer. He said when he is off duty, “It’s the worst feeling in the world to hear calls that I can’t respond to.”
To help combat those feelings, Carpenter maintains a work/life balance, and when not working he’s usually outdoors or with family. Physical fitness is the basis for mental health, he contends, saying, “Working out de-stresses you.” Carpenter also enjoys hunting, fishing, and just being on the lake.
When on duty, however, Carpenter will continue to be professional and respectful. Gissy commended his work ethic. He said, “Corporal Carpenter has played a central role in the ‘raising of the bar’ of a deputy sheriff. He continues to selflessly serve our community, and will undoubtedly have an efficacious career in the field of law enforcement.”