The House passed a bill Wednesday that aims to improve the recruitment and retention of Washington State Patrol officers by making their pay competitive with other law enforcement agencies.
House Bill 2872 passed out of the House on a 85-12 vote. It directs state agencies to implement the recommendations of the Washington State Patrol Trooper Recruitment and Retention Study released in January. That includes paying competitive salaries.
Prime sponsor of the bill Rep. Jake Fey, D-Tacoma, said the bill is needed for the safety of state highways. Washington State Patrol currently has more than 100 vacancies.
“For those people who are willing to stay as a trooper, we need to send them the signal that we are willing to step up and pay what is due them,” Fey said.
The bill specifies that Washington State Patrol trooper salaries must be the “average compensation paid to the corresponding rank” of law enforcement officers at six other agencies around the state — including the Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office and the Spokane Police Department. To determine that average compensation, the bill directs the the Office of Financial Management to conduct a survey of each of the six agencies.
“It really creates a very bad situation that is very inaccurate,” he said. “I really think that until that survey problem is taken out and we get back to a straight collective bargaining, I really can’t support the bill.”
The Washington State Patrol collective bargaining units and Office of Financial Management must consider the survey results and the “dedicated compensation funding in the WSP highway account during negotiations,” according to the bill.
The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.