State trooper bill passes the Senate

OLYMPIA—In years past, the Washington State Patrol (WSP) had as many as 400 applicants a month for open positions. Nowadays, the average number of monthly applicants is just 53. Worse yet, only about six percent of these applicants are even eligible for hire.

Washingtonians rely on state troopers to enforce roadway regulations and help when assistance on the road is needed. But with such workforce issues impacting the WSP, Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma) knew something needed to be done. That’s why he introduced HB 1638 to focus on recruitment efforts for the WSP.

HB 1638 passes the House nearly unanimously (94-1) on February 27. Yesterday, April 10, it passed the Senate, also nearly unanimously, with a vote of 48-1. However, the Senate made changes to the bill, so it will head back to the House one more time for concurrence before it heads to the Governor’s desk.

“The Legislature finds that the WSP is experiencing historic levels of trooper vacancies,” said Fey. “Simultaneously, our state is experiencing alarming increases in serious and fatal crashes on our roadways. In 2022, 745 people died on Washington roads, which is the highest level our state has seen in 30 years.

“The Legislature must not only hire more people to help protect people on the roads, but also broaden its outreach to candidates that are more reflective of the various communities WSP serves,” continued Fey. “HB 1638 will assist WSP in attracting and retaining sufficient numbers of troopers for the protection of the citizens of our state.”