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New troopers hit peninsula roadways

Better slow down, the troopers are back in town.

After a few months with road trooper vacancies, the Washington State Patrol announced it has hired 13 new troopers for the Olympic Peninsula region and has transferred in three veteran troopers.

“They are already on the streets and ready to go,” said State Patrol public information officer Krista Hedstrom. “We started out 2008 with 12 vacancies and had a few more positions open up since then, so we’ve been trying to keep up with the turnover, but there are still two vacancies in Kitsap County.”

Other than the two vacancies, the State Patrol is at full force in District 8, which includes Kitsap, Mason, Jefferson, Clallam, Grays Harbor, Pacific and Wahkiakum counties.

“Clallam County is getting one new trooper and one with about five years of experience in areas like Everett and Seattle,” Hedstrom said, who is a new hire as public information officer but has been a trooper for years. “We’ve had a lot of retirements lately and these troopers are already filling in the gaps.”

Trooper Joseph Knutson, originally from Quincy, was a trooper cadet in Seattle with the Homeland Security Division of Washington State Patrol. He is a recent graduate of the State Patrol Academy as well as Washington State University and has been with WSP for 18 months.

Trooper Michael Simonson, originally from Federal Way, has been with the State Patrol for five years. Simonson is a U.S. Merchant Marine Academy graduate and served in the U.S. Naval Reserve prior to joining the State Patrol.

After the number of State Patrol applicants began to dwindle a few years ago, the agency started a recruitment blitz involving advertising, academy open houses and additional public outreach.

In 2006 and 2007 the number of applicants began to grow, however the number dipped again following the advertising campaign.

The State Patrol anticipates hiring a minimum of 54 trooper cadets every nine months in order to fill the expected vacancies left by the 136 troopers eligible for retirement over the next five years. The State Patrol employs 1,052 commissioned officers across the state.

Clallam and Jefferson counties share 16 troopers and two sergeants.

For more information on the Washington State Patrol and the agency’s hiring practices, visit www.wsp.wa.gov.



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