Inslee calls for expanded law enforcement training campuses

A 2021 crime report found that Washington state has the lowest per capita rate of civil servants since 1980 and in the nation.

BURIEN, Wash. — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee on Thursday proposed expanding the state’s law enforcement training campus to reduce officer shortages and improve agencies’ ability to recruit and retain officers.

On Wednesday, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) released a 2021 crime report that highlighted the decline in the state’s police workforce.

The executive director of WASPC said Washington has the lowest per capita rate of public servants the state has seen since the association began collecting the data in 1980. It’s also the lowest in the nation. The national average per capita for officers is 2.33 officers per 1,000, according to the FBI.

On Thursday, Inslee joined local and state law enforcement agencies to announce support for expanding the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). The governor’s office said new regional training centers would expedite training and aid recruitment efforts.

“Right now we have 134 recruits who unfortunately have to wait an average of four months just to start this training. That’s not acceptable to us,” said Inslee.

Currently, every law enforcement officer in the state is trained and certified by the CJTC and goes through a 19-week law enforcement academy in Burien.

An expansion would mean those wishing to become law enforcement officers could complete their training at proposed regional facilities closer to where they live, rather than commuting to the state facility in Burien.

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“Currently, recruits only have to train at this location. They need to travel, they need to be away from their homes and their families,” Inslee said. “This has led to a standstill in the process. It’s a barrier to recruiting good people and we need to do better.”

Washington state lost nearly 500 police officers statewide in 2021 as the state’s population grew faster than Everett’s population, according to the crime report released Wednesday.

The number of commissioned law enforcement officers decreased by 4.4%. The per capita rate of law enforcement officers nationwide fell to 1.38 per 1,000.

“Right now, many agencies are stagnating. Not every single one. Not every single agency is in a staffing crisis; many are,” said Steven Strachan, Executive Director of WASPC. “These things are problems with solutions, and that means supporting good policing and recognizing that public safety is important.” Inslee calls for expanded law enforcement training campuses

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