Washington state

Law enforcement agencies in recruiting war for officers

SEATTLE - Law enforcement agencies in Western Washington say the competition is tough for qualified recruits to replace retiring officers, but despite the challenges they hope to hire dozens of new officers this year.

The Seattle Police Department wants to hire 80 officers this year, the State Patrol wants 92, Everett police need 20 new officers and the King County sheriff's office is looking for 17 more deputies.

More than 60 agencies will be represented at a law enforcement career fair March 28 at Seattle University, recruiting for jobs with pay ranges that start at between $3,500 and $4,000 a month.

Seattle Police recruiter Suzanne Long has been to job fairs, community festivals, high schools and college campuses across the Northwest looking for recruits.

"We've been to all corners of the state," Long said. "We've gone to Idaho, Portland and Arizona. ... We spend a lot of time pounding the pavement (because) ... you really have to reach out and let people know this awesome career is there for the taking."

Police recruiters suggested reasons for a shortage of recruits include a healthy economy that gives more employment choices and the Iraq War, which is tying up soldiers who normally go into law enforcement.