Today Carol and I had the opportunity to tour the Washington State Patrol Academy along with about 70 other citizens. The academy is located in Shelton, WA, just about 15 miles northwest of Olympia, WA.
As you enter the academy grounds, there is a memorial in the center of the “quad” which is dedicated to all WSP officers who died while on duty. The last one was slightly over 10 years ago. It is a sobering tribute to those fallen while serving the citizens of this state.
Before the tour started, we had a “briefing” from the lieutenant in charge of the academy. As this was the first day for a new class of cadets, we were there at just the right time to see them begin their training.
Once they complete the first 7 weeks, or “arming class”, some will be selected to continue to trooper basic training which lasts 18 more weeks. Those that are not selected go out into the field as cadets in security roles like inspecting the ferry boats, guarding the governor, etc. After getting some field experience, they can then apply to be included in the next trooper basic course. Only about 3-4% of those who apply to the WSP are accepted into the academy and only 1% of the applicants make it through trooper basic and graduate as WSP troopers. Above is pictured the standard issue patrol car which each trooper gets. They also receive all equipment and supplies.
Above is a picture of the firing range. They will be here in all kinds of weather, night or day, and in all kinds of positions. They receive over 100 hours of live fire and many more hours learning how to care for their weapons. In addition to their firearm (they never call them guns), they will also receive a taser and pepper spray. As a part of their training, each cadet will at some time, be pepper sprayed and tased.
On the side of the range is a “maze” of tire tube walls to simulate a house. They will penetrate these areas in live fire exercises with different scenarios. The above picture shows a common criminal as he tries to escape from the tire tube room.
This is a part of the obstacle course. There are fences, walls, barriers, heavy brush, etc. The instructors can create different training scenarios for the cadets to run as a part of their training.
They have a fully equipped gymnasium for workouts and training that is available to the cadets 24 hours a day.
They also have a water tank that is shaped mysteriously like an Olympic sized pool. This pool is used to train in with different scenarios including water fights. They even have a car frame that they submerge with a scuba-equipped officer inside that the cadets must rescue.
This is a picture of the current cadet class being trained outdoors. There are 6 troopers working with this class of 54. They project that only 17 of them will actually make it to trooper basic training on the first try.
When the cadets mess up (which is often in the early days of the class) they go to this “pit” where they do remedial studies to learn how not to mess up. Here, the remedial study is push-ups.
Here is the classroom where academics are taught. Each cadet has a specific place to sit with their name tag.
This is the cadet class known as “22nd Arming.” We could see a definite progress made in their marching from earlier in the day when we first saw them.
The motto at the academy is “We will not quit, we will not die, we will survive.” All of this training that the cadets in arming and trooper basic go through is with that in mind. Cover the possibilities in training and the troopers will know how to handle just about anything out on patrol. As it costs us taxpayers about $144,000 just to train each cadet, you can see that there is a significant investment. No wonder only 3.4% on average are selected for academy training.