NASELLE — The Washington State Patrol is being hit particularly hard by Gov. Jay Inslee’s vaccine mandate for all state employees that went into effect on Oct. 18. Dozens of troopers around the state spent the day one by one turning in all their gear and patrol vehicles.
Effective Oct. 18, 74 commissioned troopers had not reported their vaccination status to the agency and were fired. Along with the troopers, WSP leadership said 53 non-commissioned employees — including secretaries, radio technicians, and dispatchers — were terminated as well. These numbers do not include many who chose to retire early or who sought other employment in the weeks before the mandate went into effect.
Locally, the WSP-Naselle Detachment will not be losing any troopers, according to Sgt. Bradford Moon, who confirmed all six of his troopers will remain.
However, his detachment is down two troopers, with one having retired earlier this year and another serving a long-term commitment at the WSP Academy in Shelton.
“Effective Oct. 19, we have just enough troopers to cover the minimum staffing requirement for WSP District 8 Bremerton, which includes Jefferson, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Kitsap, Mason, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties,” Moon said.
“Locally, we will be able to maintain and schedule, albeit a little understaffed due to two vacancies, but we will continue to provide service to Wahkiakum and Pacific counties as well as we can with the staffing that we have,” Moon added.
However, the terminations are expected to somewhat impact Pacific County because neighboring Grays Harbor County is losing four troopers from its WSP-Hoquiam Detachment. The four troopers worked for the agency for less than 5 years, 10 years, 15 years, and 19 years.
One of the troopers was an academy classmate of Moon’s, and several are stated to have performed multiple roles for the agency such as serving as drug-recognition experts, collision technicians, and on the riot squad.
Moon anticipates there will be occasions when his troopers will be needed to cover other counties due to “staffing issues,” including Grays Harbor County, but does not expect he will be scheduling troopers for out-of-district coverage.
District-wide, WSP is already down 35% of its staffing, with only 46 of 70 commissioned trooper positions filled. The number will drop further with the terminations on Oct. 18, with the four terminated in Grays Harbor and another two in nearby Mason County.
“It has been a difficult time for those that have been forced to leave and also those of us that stayed behind,” Moon said. “We will continue to work together with our partner law enforcement agencies to provide law enforcement response to the two counties of which we are responsible for.”