Fey on HB 1638: An Incentive Program to Make Being a State Trooper a More Attractive Career Choice

OLYMPIA—Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) has introduced HB 1638, which will focus on the recruitment for the Washington State Patrol (WSP). The bill is an incentive program to make being a state trooper a more attractive career choice.

The WSP is responsible for traffic law enforcement, collision investigation, criminal interdiction, terrorism prevention, and motorist assistance on the interstate and state highway systems. At present, the WSP has 516 field force troopers – 167 below the authorized level of 683 field force troopers. The agency says it’s difficult to attract quality applicants, let alone hire.

“A few years ago, the Washington State Patrol would receive 400 applicants a month,” said Fey during public testimony on the bill in the Transportation Committee (of which he is Chair) last week. “Now it’s down to 53 applicants a month. The percentage of people who apply and then are eligible for hire is just six percent. Years back, that was six percent of 400 – now it’s six percent of 53. This is unacceptable, and it’s unsatisfactory for the people who need to have a critical level of protection and response to whatever kind of emergency they might have on our state highways and that’s why I proposed the bill.

“We’ve done a good job over the last four years of trying to get salaries comparable to larger agencies,” Fey said. “I’ve thought twice about doing this [bill], but I just think that the level of vacancies is really objectionable and to not try to do something would be reprehensible,” he added.

Washingtonians rely on the WSP for traffic law enforcement and motorist assistance on our state’s roads. This bill will establish better hiring practices, an accelerated training program for lateral hires from other law enforcement agencies in the country and to provide bonuses to cadets and lateral hires in two stages.

HB 1363 passed out of committee today and is now headed to the floor.