The Washington State Patrol Chief John R Batiste says their agency lost 127 employees across the state after the State-wide mandate to be vaccinated took effect, the deadline being October 18th.
You could hear final sign-offs from State Toppers across the state including Grays Harbor. GHS Admins could hear the dispatchers tears and sadness as each trooper signed off.
Dispatchers and staff from not only WSP but other agencies in shock in a time when filling law enforcement positions is already critical.
Monday, October 18 was the deadline for state employees to provide proof of vaccination or receive approved exemption and accommodations for religious or medical accommodations or face separation from employment. As of the end-of-business on Monday, 127 individuals have separated from employment due to the mandate. 53 civil servants and 74 commissioned officers (67 troopers, 6 sergeants, and 1 captain) have, for varying reasons and in varying ways, separated from employment.
A 16 year veteran with WSP Communications said on social media a little insider information about the staffing of her district. "The State Patrol has 8 districts. Our district handles five counties; Clark, Skamania, Klickitat, Cowlitz and Lewis. We currently have 17 Communication Officers. Due to the vaccine mandate, 2 are being forced to retire and 4 are being fired. Of the 11 remaining COs, 2 are in training and 1 is on military deployment until spring. This leaves eight COs. Eight COs to run five counties, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Eight out of 17 when 17 isn’t even fully staffed… How will 8 COs run a 24/7 911 center that handles five counties? Your guess is as good as mine. Our radio supervisor have placed our units (Troopers, Wildlife Officers, Commercial Vehicle Officers, etc.) on “priority radio traffic only,” starting the 18th, until further notice. I fear what this will all mean for my coworkers and for the citizens on our community".
WSP Chief John R Batiste commented, “We will miss every one of them.” He added, “I extend a hardy thanks to those who are leaving the agency. I truly wish that you were staying with us. You have my utmost appreciation for the hard and successful work that you have provided during your valued WSP careers. You will forever have our respect for your courage and your commitment in all you have done on behalf of the agency.”
WSP has approximately 2,200 personnel in 8 districts and multiple geographic detachments and operational divisions. The departures are spread across the state impacting some areas differently than others. Agency and division leadership have been working with the Contingency Planning Team since the days immediately after the mandate’s announcement. As the agency moves through the next several days, leaders will gauge the immediate actual impact for short-term mitigation. In that time, the agency will move resources where necessary and specific personnel losses demand adjustment. In the mid and long term, WSP will continue its ongoing efficiency reviews and vigorous recruiting that will fill three new academy classes in the months to come. On the civilian side, the agency will make similar adjustments and look to fill vacancies with the best candidates possible as soon as possible.
As for the more than 2,000 individuals who elected to stay with our agency, I am forever thankful. We have the responsibilities of the agency to carry forward and I am not going to ask you to do more with less. We shall do our very best to keep our remaining staff from becoming overburdened by these temporary losses,” said Chief Batiste. “We must now turn our attention to making sure we deploy our resources in a manner that continues to keep our roadways safe and meets the other core law enforcement responsibilities this agency has met with honor for over 100 years.” In a message to all WSP personnel Monday evening, the Chief concluded: “Covid is a killer and the state is taking action intended to improve public safety. I thank you for staying oon post and staying in service to this state and agency. Better days are ahead. Believe that and know I believe in you.”