Lipstick on a Pig?

The Washington State Patrol’s (the “WSP”) stated mission is to ‘make a difference every day, enhancing the safety and security of our state by providing the best in public safety services.’ Its vision is ‘to be the best public safety agency in the United States. And its motto is, ‘Service With Humility’. So it should be of serious concern when we read in the news over the weekend that our very own WSP is faced with the challenge of grappling with a staff shortage, and that this ‘shortage’ could get worse before it gets better. The underlying, yet unsaid, issue with this problem is that if there is a quick knee jerk reaction to solving it, the people of Washington may be left with being policed by characters that have no business enforcing our laws.

If WSP’s recruiting ads (which include a series of billboard and radio spots) only resonate with those in desperate need of employment coupled with WSP’s desperate need for new blood and recruits, we may all be in very big trouble … there could be a spike in unlawful arrests and use of force. Again of equal concern, it would appear that the WSP is not the only law enforcement agency ‘grappling’ with maintaining a work environment that is appealing to qualified applicants. Case in point, the University of Washington Police Department has also been ‘called out’ in the past for not having the best of work conditions, and in turn possibly being challenged to entice the most qualified candidates to police our state championed educational institution.

The weekend article in the Seattle Times claims that the WSP is ‘beset with challenges that include a graying of the force, and trouble recruiting and retaining troopers who can earn higher pay in other local law-enforcement agencies, the State Patrol faces a staffing shortage in field operations, which covers thousands of miles of state highways. According to the article ‘there were 106 vacancies as of Oct. 30 — out of a total 671 positions, according to the Patrol. The average monthly number of unfilled positions has risen each year since 2009.’

Things have gotten so bad, in fact, that the Legislature ordered a study on how to retain state troopers and recruit new ones. Allegedly there are two reasons for the shortage: the “retirement bubble” and its wave of career veterans turning in their badges, and a sizable number of younger troopers leaving the WSP. It is said that police departments in Seattle and Tacoma, and sheriffs’ departments in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties all offer more for starting and advanced pay than the WSP.  The sad reality, however, is that this shortage cannot just be about pay scale.  There are plenty of people who just want a reasonable paying job with a good work environment.  So … it is not reasonable to believe that WSP’s retention problem is ‘all about the money’.  I don’t buy it, and neither should you.

Whatever the reason, and whatever the solution, it should be concerning to everyone that the pool of applicants may, or may not, include a sufficient number of ‘qualified’ and trustworthy folks who can truly, and honorably, uphold the ethos of the WSP’s stated ‘mission’. Only time will tell how successful the WSP is in getting qualified applicants in their ranks. Let’s hope we aren’t just trying to put ‘lipstick on a pig’ … as they say.

If you or a loved has been cited, arrested or charged with an infraction or crime in Washington State it would be smart to immediately contact a Seattle criminal defense attorney to protect your rights and interests. The Seattle criminal defense attorneys that make up the criminal defense team of SQ Attorneys are highly qualified and reputable Seattle criminal defense lawyers that are dedicated to providing top notch, aggressive representation for those arrested for crime all across Western Washington and the Greater Puget Sound region. The team creates success by working with law enforcement and the prosecuting attorney’s office to ensure that all facts and circumstances related to the criminal allegations are considered in creating the fairest, most equitable and just resolution possible in light of all the surrounding circumstances of the given case. So, whether cited for a driving offense, theft, prostitution, possession and/or distribution of drugs, assault, property destruction or some other law violation, protect yourself … call SQ Attorneys immediately.

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