Thirty-seven new Washington State Patrol troopers graduated Wednesday during a ceremony at the state Capitol in Olympia. But they’re only making a dent in a big trooper shortage.
Trooper graduations are big deals. They’re held in the Capitol rotunda. The governor attends. Families cram the balconies. They’re also bound by tradition. A color guard, the national anthem, a prayer.
At this graduation, the chief justice of the Supreme Court led the newly minted troopers in their oath.
As these 37 troopers head out on patrol, the Washington State Patrol’s vacancy rate drops. But the agency still has 145 open jobs, and a wave of retirements is expected over the next two years.
Gov. Jay Inslee urged these graduates to help recruit the next classes of troopers.
“If you see talent, I’m serious about this, I hope you’ll bring them into this family,” Inslee said.
Among the new troopers is Marcus Bulluck of Buffalo, New York. He was an Air Force pharmacy tech based at Fairchild Air Force base near Spokane. He acknowledged it’s a tough time to get into policing.
“As an African American, I want to show everybody -- black, white, Hispanic, whatever -- that police aren’t bad,” Bulluck said.
Washington lawmakers recently boosted trooper pay in an effort to deal with recruitment and retention issues at the Washington State Patrol.