Kitsap sharing in shortage of state troopers

The in basket: When State Trooper Russ Winger answered a Road Warrior question a few weeks back about speed patrols near the Southworth and other ferry terminals, he said part of the problem was a reduction in the number of troopers assigned to Kitsap County from 27 to 17 in the past two years.

I asked the reason for that rather steep drop, and was reminded of the question when I saw a TV report of how far behind the patrol is in filling its allotted number of trooper positions.

So I asked again.

The out basket: Russ replied, “The bottom line is that we are having difficulty attracting, screening, hiring and training enough qualified applicants to fill many positions. This is a law enforcement problem in general and particularly within the WSP due to attrition through retirements and also some loss of personnel to other agencies.

“Locally we have lost those 10 positions due to downsizing and reallocation of personnel to other APA’s (Autonomous Patrol Areas) within the state. This is a statewide agency problem.  When personnel retire or otherwise leave the agency the positions are just left unfilled. We currently have one complete detachment (six troopers) that is unfilled in our area. The remaining four vacant positions in the two detachments remain unfilled.

“Remember that the 17 troopers working in Bremerton is a best case scenario. With sickness, training, vacations and various other demands that pull troopers off of the road, very rarely is there full detachment coverage. For coverage purposes, we have divided the manpower into two detachments of troopers that provide 24/7 coverage.

“Our job is to provide, assistance, security and safety on our highways. We do this by having troopers out working the highways every day and night. Our troopers continue to work hard to do this, even with diminishing manpower.

“The agency is working on ways to streamline and improve the hiring process. We have the need and funding to sustain these open positions so hopefully these efforts will help reverse or slow the continued loss of manpower statewide.”

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