Washington State Patrol, other agencies experiencing ‘historically’ massive staffing shortages

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  • 08/09/2023
In the wake of the “defund the police” movement and Governor Jay Inslee’s Covid-19 vaccine mandates which led to the termination, retirement, and transfers of troopers, the Washington State Patrol continues to have trouble recruiting new candidates, and the agency is now concerned it could be short-staffed for years to come.

The agency told KIRO 7 that they are down over 200 positions and incoming recruiting classes are getting smaller. Simultaneously, more troopers are reaching retirement age.

Chris Loftis with WSP told the outlet that their last two academy classes are the most diverse classes they’ve had, but “We have a hole that is deep and it’s only going to get deeper in the next few years.”

Loftis added, “But when you look at the whole system, that means all of the command, detectives, the specialty troopers, we’re between 200 to 250  down right now.”

WA State Representative Eric Robertson, who was a WSP trooper for almost two decades, told the Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, that the vacancies are “...the largest I think they’ve ever historically been,” adding, “Add on top of the vacancies, the number of eligible troopers that can retire at a moment’s notice. If that were to occur, it would be a travesty.”

He also knocked Loftis’s statement on diversity, telling Hoffman, “The spokesperson for the state patrol lauded themselves for their diversity, which is laudable. However, when you appear to be excluding people that are potentially qualified candidates and not getting them in the door because your focus is on diversity, instead of getting qualified folks of all races and genders, through the door and out serving the public, you’ve got a missed focus.”

Before the vax mandate, WSP had approximately 2,200 personnel in eight districts. The losses are over 10 percent of the agency.

Many of Washington’s state agencies are suffering from staffing shortages following Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandates, most notably the Washington Department of Transportation.

Over the high-traffic Memorial Day weekend, Washington State Ferries, one of the largest ferry systems in the US, canceled almost a dozen sailings on one of the busiest travel days of the year.

The majority of trips to the San Juan islands were canceled, while other sailings were significantly delayed. The Washington State Department of Transportation could not provide details on why the staff wasn’t making their shifts when asked by the Seattle Times.

According to KOMO News, one Twitter user said they were stranded for five hours even though they reserved a spot. They were told to wait an additional five hours to catch a third ferry. According to the user, over 250 people were waiting at the Friday Harbor terminal. Another Twitter user replied that they and others were waiting more than 12 hours.

The department is already anticipating significant delays for this coming weekend as the region begins its peak summer season.

Over 2,000 state employees were terminated as a result of Democrat Governor Jay Inslee’s COVID vaccine mandate. WSDOT was the hardest hit, making up over 20 percent of the terminations.

During the most recent legislative cycle, Washington lawmakers passed HB 1638 to give WSP better recruiting tools and financial incentives for new cadets and officers making a lateral move to the agency.
However, cities like Seattle, which replicated Inslee’s vaccine mandate and embraced the defund the police movement, have not had success in recruiting, even with financial incentives.

After losing close to 600 officers in the wake of the defunding movement and the city’s vaccine mandate, Mike Solan, president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, told the Ari Hoffman Show on Talk Radio 570 KVI, “The reality is, you’re gonna keep losing quality police officers until they’re treated in a matter that’s reasonable here in the city of Seattle.”
“One, you get political support from elected officials publicly, and two, which I think is equally as important as public support from elected officials, is agreeing to cost of living expenses for officers.”

Solan continued, “It’s time for the city to get serious and treat this reality in terms of our public safety nightmare. The staffing crisis they created with an acknowledgment that we’ve got a significant hill to climb here.”
“We love the city. We love this agency, but witnessing this play out day-to-day, hour-to-hour, minute by minute, is the decay of this agency. I think with that decay, we’re seeing the decay of the city.”
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