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Wash. State Patrol hires first transfer officer class under new law allocating funds to quicken training

The 2023 law set aside money to expedite training for Washington State Patrol recruits who are already certified law enforcement officers

Kelso officer joins Washington State Patrol under new training for experienced recruits

“The bottom line is we have to think outside the historical box and still maintain the high standards for which our agency is known,” he said. “Each of these nine has already proven they have what it takes to be a modern law enforcement officer, and each has already served their nation, their state, and their communities with distinction.”

Washington State Patrol via Facebook

By Matt Esnayra
The Daily News, Longview, Wash.

KELSO, Wash. — A new state law helping Washington State Patrol fill its more than 100 vacancies allowed a former Kelso police officer to recently become a trooper with reduced training.

House Bill 1638 passed during the 2023 legislative session allocated money to expedite training for Washington State Patrol recruits who are already certified law enforcement officers.

Austin Foley was a Kelso police officer since 2018, but was sworn in as a Washington State Patrol trooper Monday afternoon with eight other certified officers, according to an agency press release.

Because officers like Foley have already completed a training academy, he joined a shortened training to become a trooper.

The state patrol’s website says trooper basic training is typically 26 weeks and field training is 10 weeks, but applicants who are already certified officers can take a class that runs an average of four weeks, with four weeks of coaching with a senior trooper.

Washington State Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said in the press release creative recruitment measures are needed to fill the agency’s vacancies.

“The bottom line is we have to think outside the historical box and still maintain the high standards for which our agency is known,” he said. “Each of these nine has already proven they have what it takes to be a modern law enforcement officer, and each has already served their nation, their state, and their communities with distinction.”

Foley was initially hired by the Kelso Police Department in 2018 but transferred to the Vancouver Police Department in 2021 before eventually being rehired by Kelso in April 2022 , according to a previous report by The Daily News.

The press release states, like trooper cadets, lateral hires like Foley also undergo a background check, polygraph and psychological evaluation. Out-of-state hires undergo an additional two-week academy focused on Washington state law.

Another class of troopers who are already certified officers is scheduled to begin in March, and the agency says in the press release that leaders hope as many as 40 recruits will be included.

Washington State Patrol has 149 vacancies in its trooper ranks, with an additional 50 to 100 vacancies in specialized commissioned roles like supervisors, detectives and pilots, the press release states.

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