Inslee calls for expansion of law enforcement training campuses

A 2021 Crime Report found that Washington State has the lowest rate of officers per capita since 1980 and in the nation.

BURIEN, Wash. — Washington Governor Jay Inslee on Thursday proposed expanding the state’s law enforcement training campus in a bid to ease officer shortages and increase agency capacity. to recruit and retain officers.

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

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

On Thursday, Inslee joined local and state law enforcement officials in announcing support for the expansion of the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC). The governor’s office said new regional training centers would speed up training and help recruiting 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,” Inslee said.

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

An expansion would mean that those looking to become law enforcement officers could take training closer to home at the proposed regional facilities instead of traveling to the state facility in Burien.

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“Currently, recruits have to train right there. They have to travel, they have to be away from home and away from their families,” Inslee said. “It has created a blockage in the process. It creates 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 more than Everett’s population, according to the crime report released Wednesday.

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

“Right now, a lot of agencies are treading water. Not all of them. Not all agencies are in a staffing crisis; many are,” said Steven Strachan, executive director of WASPC. “These are problems with solutions, and this is to support good policing and recognize that public safety is important.”