Faced with significant numbers of recent and impending retirements, the Washington State Patrol says it’s launching an unprecedented hiring campaign.
The Seattle Times says the agency typically hires and trains one class of 50 to 60 recruits annually. But because of the retirement picture, the Legislature recently approved $5 million in funding for an additional patrol academy class.
One cadet class has already been selected.
Capt. Jeff DeVere said that the patrol is looking for another 60 candidates for a second cadet class to begin training later this year.
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The agency says it lacks time after the Legislature’s passage of a budget last week to use its traditional approach to recruiting candidates for a second cadet training class in the fall. It is spending some $49,000 on newspaper ads plus doing other outreach to drum up as many as 2,000 candidates. All would be tested as the agency looks for 60 candidates for its 101st class in history.
The ads are going into papers in Spokane, Tri-Cities, the Puget Sound area and Vancouver, according to Dan Coon, an agency spokesman.
Open testing is scheduled April 28 through May 1 at the Camp Murray National Guard Armory south of Tacoma. There’s a written test, a physical fitness test and an extensive background check.
Patrol Academy instructor Sgt. Freddy Williams says many otherwise qualified candidates in recent years have been unable to pass the physical fitness test. Requirements vary by age and gender, but candidates must be able to complete a 11/2-mile run in a certain time and perform a certain number of push-ups and sit-ups.
“What we are looking for is people with good judgment, people with integrity, people with honesty and the yearning to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” said DeVere.
This isn’t the first time the patrol has ramped up its marketing to help fill an academy class. In 2006-2007, the state approved $200,000 to help the agency attract qualified applicants. Prior to that, between 2002 and 2005, the patrol’s advertising budget was $60,000 annually.
Staff writer Brad Shannon contributed to this report.