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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County Council unanimously supports officers’ training center in Vancouver

Resolution backs Inlee plan for 4 new regional facilities

By Shari Phiel, Columbian staff writer
Published: October 25, 2022, 4:26pm

The Clark County Council last week unanimously approved a resolution supporting Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal to build a law enforcement training center in Vancouver.

“Everyone that I’ve spoken to about this topic … sees this as a win-win for the community and law enforcement,” Councilor Gary Medvigy said during the council’s Oct. 18 meeting. “There is such a huge chokepoint right now in the academy for all law enforcement across the state.”

Inslee and state Sen. John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, announced in July plans to introduce legislation during the next legislative session to create four new regional law enforcement training centers around the state.

With only one facility in Burien able to train police candidates, slots often fill up quickly. This leaves recruits having to wait months to complete the 4½-month training program.

Inslee wants to build training centers in Vancouver, Everett, Pasco and Bellingham to help reduce those wait times and get officers working in the field sooner.

“Currently, recruits must attend training just at this location (Burien). They got to travel, they got to be away from homes and their families. You know law enforcement officers are tough enough without having to go through that disruption,” Inslee said during a July 21 press conference.

The state is responsible for training and certification of all law enforcement officers and corrections officers through the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. During the press conference, Lovick said legislators gave the commission an additional $8.7 million earlier this year to increase the number of cadets it could train, but they did not address the shortage of facilities.

“For young people or people with families already, having a local facility is a huge boon,” Medvigy said. “Everyone supports this. This is going to be what the state needs to fill our ranks.”

Among the many agencies across the state struggling to fill open positions is the Clark County Sheriff’s Office. According to a county press release Monday, the sheriff’s office has seen an increase in both retirements and resignations and a decrease in applications for new hires.

Councilor Julie Olson said expanding the number of training centers is a critical opportunity for the state and Legislature to address the shortage of police officers across Washington.

“We can hire deputies, we get can get folks in the system, but we can’t get them through the program. It’s a year to 18 months to get deputies through the program,” Olson said.

Council Chair Karen Dill Bowerman added, “I think this will be a wonderful step forward. Let’s hope it becomes a reality soon.”

The council sent the resolution to Inslee and Lovick along with a letter in support of building a police academy in Southwest Washington. The resolution can be found at https://clark.wa.gov/sites/default/files/media/document/2022-10/2022-10-10.pdf.

If the Legislature passes the plan in the next session, the first new training facility would be in Pasco, because the city already has the infrastructure and location selected, with additional training centers announced later.