By SUBHA ALI, contributing writer
Published February 22, 2023
Sen. Lovick seeks to add more police academy sites to help solve bottleneck in getting cadets through training and into action
State Sen. John Lovick is seeking state funding to solve a police shortage by creating additional law enforcement training centers.
Lovick (D-Mill Creek), who was a state trooper for 31 years and a prior Snohomish County sheriff, said that alleviating training bottlenecks will help with the staffing shortage.
“Every agency is short-staffed, and they can’t train enough officers at the current training site, which is in Burien,” Lovick said. “With more training sites we think we could attract more people to the profession.”
One location Lovick has suggested adding a training hub is Everett. Pasco, Vancouver and Bellingham have been mentioned, too.
Officers are trained at hubs and can officially start working once training has ended, which is the reason more hubs are needed, according to Gov. Jay Inslee at a press conference with the commission in Burien last July. Inslee is working with Lovick on the proposal to expand the state CJTC. In the meeting, Lovick did not include an estimate for how much the plan would cost, but is seeking the investment from the state.
The only other hub in the state is in Spokane, said Megan Saunders, a spokeswoman with the state Criminal Justice Training Commission CJTC.
Since 2021, there has been a decrease in the number of all law enforcement officers in Washington state, according to a crime report released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) which stated that currently there is the lowest per capita number of officers since tracking the data began in 1980. The number of officers is the lowest rate in the nation.
Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring said he would also welcome a new training hub.
“It would be a significant help. We are 18 officers down, and if we hire an officer, they will not be in the academy until September, which means they won’t be an officer on the road for another year and a half,” Nehring said. “There is a lack of training classes. If we can create more regional hubs like one in Everett, we would be able to get them on the street in about half the time.”
Washington State Patrol spokeswoman Sgt. Chelsea Hodgson said the staffing issue is directly impacting the Patrol as well.
Since the start of the year, the Patrol’s field force was down 158 troopers from their state-allotted 683 positions, Hodgson said earlier this month.
The lack of training hubs is leading to a state-wide issue that also affects communities, Lovick said.
“Officers are retiring and with the economy where it is a lot of people are not going into the profession for a number of reasons,” Lovick said. “We think we can replace a lot of retired officers with younger officers who will come and change the culture of policing.”
Lovick said Pasco is another one of the locations for a new training hub, which would have the capacity to train 30 officers.
“We believe once the officers are trained, it will be a total win for the state of Washington,” says Lovick.
Other legislative bills
Two particular bills Lovick introduced this session would reduce the DUI limit and make it illegal to take a right turn against any red light.
Lovick jointly filed with Sen. Marko Liias (D-Everett) to reduce the DUI limit to 0.05 BAC from the current limit of 0.08.
Lovick’s main concern for this is safety, he said.
“We had 745 fatalities on our roads last year. That’s the highest in 35 years. Half of these were DUI related. I think it is time we take another look at this, the idea is just safe roads. I don’t know if anyone feels safe on our roads right now,” Lovick said.
The bill to make it illegal to take any right turn at a red light, compared to stopping at the light, is meant to reduce collisions.
“We have had a lot of car collisions and car-bicycle collisions. We have had serious injuries and deaths because people did not do a better job turning right,” said Lovick. “It won’t be eliminated everywhere. it will be based on communities, like near schools, day care centers, and playgrounds.”
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