Washington State Patrol

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Washington State Patrol
Abbreviation WSP
Washington State Patrol patch.jpg
Patch of the Washington State Patrol
WA - Washington State Patrol Logo.png
Logo of the Washington State Patrol
Motto Service With Humility
Agency overview
Formed 1921
Employees 2,410 (as of 2006) [1]
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Operations jurisdiction* State of Washington (state), USA
WA - Washington State Patriol Districts.gif
Washington State Patrol Districts
Size 71,342 square miles (184,770 km2)
Population 7,061,530 (2014 est.)[2]
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Olympia, Washington
Troopers 1,059 (as of 2004) [3]
Civilians 1,239 (as of 2004) [3]
Agency executive John R. Batiste, Chief
* Divisional agency: Division of the country, over which the agency has usual operational jurisdiction.

The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is the state police agency for the U.S. state of Washington. The first six motorcycle patrolmen of the (then) Highway Patrol were commissioned September 1, 1921. The agency was renamed to Washington State Patrol in June 1933. In 1925 William Cole was appointed as the first Chief. The current chief is John R. Batiste. Ronal W. Serpas served as Chief from August, 2001 to January, 2004.

The Washington State Patrol has law enforcement authority throughout the State of Washington, with caveats for Federal property, and limited authority on Indian reservations. WSP is one of two state law enforcement agencies considered to be a general authority law enforcement agency, the other being the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. Individual officers of the Washington State Patrol are known as "Troopers" although they are infrequently colloquially referred to as "Staters". Troopers in western Washington are most frequently encountered by citizens on the state highways. However, in the eastern portion of the state and in rural areas, Troopers work both state and county roadways, frequently assisting other agencies, as well as responding to general crimes in progress (such as calls for domestic violence).

Mission statement[edit]

The Washington State Patrol makes a difference every day, enhancing the safety and security of our state by providing the best in public safety services. Recently the motto has been changed back to, "Service With Humility" to reflect a return to the traditional values that made the Washington State Patrol a well-respected part of the community.

Rank Structure[edit]

Rank Insignia
4 Gold Stars.svg
Deputy Chief
3 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant Chief
2 Gold Stars.svg
Captain insignia gold.svg
US-O1 insignia.svg
Louisiana State Police Sergeant Stripes.png
NJSP Corporal Stripes.png
Trooper Cadet


Washington State Patrol Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor
A Washington State Trooper patrols the shores of Capitol Lake during Lakefair in Olympia, Washington

Washington State Patrol patrol cars are usually white in color, however they can be of any color or make. The typical marked unit features two prominent features: the Washington State Patrol shield logo, and the dark blue thunderbolt that underlies the State Patrol shield. In addition, marked vehicles bearing these markings usually feature the words "STATE PATROL" above the shield and thunderbolt, and these features are usually found on the front right hand and front left hand door of the vehicle. Washington State Patrol also operates unmarked units, including SUVs and sports cars such as the Camaro, and luxury cars such as Volvo. Newer vehicles such as the Chevrolet Impala and the Dodge Charger have been added to the motor pool. Some patrol cars are marked, but do not have light bars. The Washington State Patrol's marked vehicles have been the Ford Crown Victoria, which has been retired and the last of the 'Crown Vics' was deployed at the end of June 2012. The new marked patrol vehicles were suppose to be the Chevrolet Caprice, but issues with reliability caused the patrol to abandon the Caprice. The new standard patrol vehicle is the Ford Interceptor Utility..[4]

Most Washington police vehicles have state exemption from licensing fees and as such most police department plates do not have tabs and are marked with "XMT" at the start of the numeric series. However Washington State Patrol marks its vehicles with plates such as "123 WSP". In that example the "123" would be the badge number of the Washington State Patrol officer to whom the vehicle is issued. This applies to all marked vehicles. Some unmarked units display non-exempt license plates for further concealment.

The units are typically equipped with Setina Bodyguard push bumpers and police style partitions inside the vehicles. Washington State Patrol has a current contract with Setina Manufacturing Company based out of Olympia, the capital of Washington.

The units which have the lightbar equipped on the roof are made by Whelen and are of the 9000 Edge Series, the typical square appearing lightbar. Newer vehicles have been equipped with the Whelen Liberty LFL, the newest LED lightbar available. The color of choice is blue, having at least one red front-facing light per state law. Older lightbars have been upgraded with their red portion being new LED units making the red not noticeable until turned on.

Some other rarer police units which have been seen are units like a Chevrolet Astro, used for weigh in stations off the freeways, and the Dodge Intrepid of which there are only two reported still active.

The overall design of the State Patrol vehicle marking (shield and thunderbolt) remains largely unchanged since the 1930s.

Washington State Troopers patrol the Washington State Capitol Campus, Capitol Lake, and area parks, mainly during public events such as Lakefair, on bicycles. Troopers also make traffic stops along the boardwalk in Olympia and patrol the Washington State Ferries waiting lines on bicycles.


Washington State Patrol has an aviation wing headquartered at the Olympia Airport. The Aviation Section provides aerial traffic enforcement and other law enforcement services. They also engage in drug enforcement missions and transport donor organs and blood supplies in medical emergencies. The call sign for WSP Aircraft is Smokey. Smokey 4 is one of the most common to be seen and is used to patrol the I-5 corridor.


Washington State Patrol has its own statewide analog, non-trunked, repeater-based, VHF radio network that covers the state. Towers for this network can be seen near highways and look like cell sites, but with longer antennas. However, as of January 1, 2013, all radio systems used by WSP will move to a conventional digital format called P25 and all old analog equipment will be taken out of service. In August, 2004, one of these towers near Vancouver, Washington was damaged by an arsonist, taking out Washington State Patrol communications in Clark County.[5]

Washington State Patrol dispatchers handle statewide law enforcement dispatching and radio communications for the Washington State Patrol, Fish & Wildlife Police Officers of the Department of Fish and Wildlife, Law Enforcement Officers of the Washington Department of Natural Resources, Law Enforcement Officers of the US Forest Service, Liquor Enforcement Officers of the Liquor Control Board, Park Rangers of the Washington State Parks, and the WSDOT.


Washington State Patrol operates seven crime laboratories: full-service labs in Seattle, Tacoma, Marysville and Cheney, and limited-service laboratories in Vancouver, Kennewick and Tumwater. The Washington State Patrol crime lab system provides service to all city and county law enforcement agencies in the state.

State Fire Marshal[edit]

Operating under the Washington State Patrol, the Office of the State Fire Marshal, Fire Protection Bureau, provides services to fire districts, government agencies, members of the media, and the general public. These services include:

  • fire incident reporting and data collection
  • fire code review and adoption
  • construction plan review for fire sprinkler and alarm systems
  • fire inspections of high risk occupancies housing elderly and vulnerable populations

In addition, the Fire Protection Bureau regulates the fireworks and sprinkler industry through a licensing program.

Washington State Patrol operates the State Fire Training Academy, which provides high-risk fire training to fire departments and fire protection districts. In addition, they provide a Certification Program through a standards and accreditation process. The Fire Protection Bureau also provides coordination of Washington State fire service resources for mobilization during natural or human-caused disasters. Hazardous materials training, fire and life safety prevention education, and public information services are also responsibilities of the Fire Protection Bureau.[6]


The current Washington State Patrol uniform is a Flying Cross French Blue shirt with royal blue pocket flaps, French blue pants striped with royal blue, and a royal blue campaign hat. The Washington State Patrol is one of only two state police agencies (New Mexico State Police being the other) that wear a black bow tie with their long sleeve winter uniform shirts.

In 2007, Washington State Patrol was awarded "Best Dressed State Law Enforcement Agency" by the National Association of Uniform Manufacturers and Distributors.[7]


Currently the standard sidearm issued for State Troopers is the Smith & Wesson M&P[8] in 40 S&W. WSP troopers also carry Remington 870 shotguns, and AR-15 rifles in their cruisers. Additionally, HK MP5 submachine guns are used (but only by WSP SWAT and other specialty units).


The 190-acre (0.77 km2) large State Patrol academy is in Shelton, Washington. The academy was given to the Washington State Patrol in 1947, and was dedicated on December 29, 1969. It includes a 2.7-mile (4.3 km) emergency driving course which was the first high-speed drive course in the world.


2003: EVERETT - Sixty-five people cited for a variety of misdemeanor traffic offenses in Snohomish County will have their cases dismissed because a State Patrol trooper "recycled" information in scores of reports, the Snohomish County Prosecutor's Office said yesterday. Keith Jordan resigned from the State Patrol on Friday when he learned there would be an internal investigation into the way he was writing arrest reports and citations, Capt. Robert Lenz said.[9]

2004: State Patrol fires crime lab scientist - His testimony in Montana cited; internal audit is downplayed; Washington State Patrol officials fired beleaguered crime lab forensic scientist Arnold Melnikoff yesterday, saying his flawed hair-analysis testimony in a Montana rape trial while on the agency's payroll violated professional standards. Citing a need to restore "public trust and confidence," the State Patrol said Melnikoff's "incompetent and inaccurate" testimony in that 1990 case meant he could no longer do his job.[10]

2007: Allegations may cast cloud over DUI cases - State lab manager quits after she's accused of signing false statements; Allegations that the manager of the state toxicology lab has repeatedly signed false statements over nearly seven years could raise questions about criminal cases and prompt hundreds of drunken-driving suspects to challenge their breath tests. Ann Marie Gordon resigned July 20, several days after the Washington State Patrol began investigating an anonymous tip about work done in its own Seattle toxicology lab.[11]

2008: State crime-lab chief to resign - Barry Logan, the embattled chief of the state Crime Laboratory, will step down in March; The embattled director of the State Patrol crime labs has resigned, accepting responsibility for allegations of sloppy work and fraud that jeopardized more than 100 DUI breath-test results in the past year.[12]

2008: Forensic scientist defends work for State Patrol; The Patrol has said that it found three errors in cases of Thompson's, prompting a broader review of his work. Thompson, the Patrol said, incorrectly analyzed a gunshot's trajectory in one case, released information before a supervisor reviewed his work in another case, and failed to identify a bullet's diameter in a third case.[13]

2009: Eight troopers faced termination in a fake diploma scam discovered in 2009. Troopers who had earned a two year degree were entitled to a 2% pay raise and those who had earned a bachelor's were entitled to a 4% pay raise. Eight troopers, who were identified during the course of a federal investigation into a diploma mill, were discovered to have submitted fake diplomas along with applications for a pay increase. A State Patrol spokesman reported that the agency intended to fire the troopers.[14]

2010: Troopers accused in fake diploma case sue, claim defamation; SEATTLE – Five of the state troopers accused of buying fake diplomas for pay raises have sued the Washington Patrol, alleging defamation. Dennis Tardiff, Spike Unruh, Gabriel Olson, Daniel Mann and Bryan Ensley filed a complaint for damages in King County Superior Court this month. The plaintiffs, who are five of the eight troopers who were suspended last year, allege their diplomas met the agency's standards for a pay increase.[15]

2011: Dr. Fiona Couper, State Toxicologist - Testimony established a lack of knowledge to give weight to Exhibit 2; Department of Licensing vs. Keith Hughes, Hearing conducted by Hearing Examiner Brad Dahlquist on September 9, 2011, pages 1 – 29, transcribed for attorneys Linda M. Callahan and Amelia D. Champion by Sheri K. Escalante, Notary Public & Court Approved Transcriber[16]

2013: WSP to investigate allegations of cheating at police academy; The Washington State Patrol will conduct an investigation into allegations of cheating by state police academy recruits, the academy’s director announced Monday. Director Sue Rahr said earlier that the information from an unauthorized study guide containing test answers and questions has been circulating among recruits in two out of three classes currently in training at the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien.[17]

2013: State Patrol: Lab manager lied about investigations; The former manager of a State Crime Lab is under investigation following allegations he lied about finishing lab work at the Cheney facility. Former manager Kevin Fortney is alleged to have mishandled case files while also claiming to have completed work that was not actually done. Fortney headed the Cheney lab for about a decade.[18]

Natural resources[edit]

In January 2009, Governor Christine Gregoire proposed the idea of moving Fish & Wildlife Enforcement Officers employed by the Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife (WDFW) and Law Enforcement Officers currently employed by the Washington Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to the State Patrol as a budget saving measure. This idea was fiercely opposed by outdoorsmen, WDFW, DNR and the state sheriff's association and never gained any ground by state legislators.

In September 2009, Governor Gregoire again proposed the merging of the WDFW and DNR law enforcement officers and either putting them under control of the State Patrol or making a separate Natural Resources Police Department. This was once again proposed as a budget saving measure as part of the governor's Natural Resource Reform program. This proposal was once again fiercely opposed by outdoorsmen, WDFW, DNR and the state sheriff's association and never gained any support.

State legislators have continued in later legislative sessions to pursue moving WDFW and DNR law enforcement personnel to the WSP, however this move continues to get fiercely opposed by outdoorsmen, WDFW, DNR and the state sheriff's association

Oregon and Alaska are the only states who have their natural resource enforcement officers part of the state patrol.

Fallen Officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Washington State Patrol, 29 officers have died in the line of duty.[19]

Officer Date of Death Cause
Patrolman Vernon G. Fortin
Sunday, September 30, 1923
Motorcycle accident
Patrolman Irving M. Thorsvig
Tuesday, October 26, 1926
Motorcycle accident
Patrolman Conrad C. Tolson
Sunday, March 24, 1929
Motorcycle accident
Patrolman H. Douglas Cossman
Wednesday, October 9, 1929
Automobile accident
Patrolman William H. Pautzke
Thursday, May 8, 1930
Motorcycle accident
Captain Loren G. Ray
Sunday, December 16, 1934
Patrolman Allen E. Ludden
Tuesday, March 15, 1938
Motorcycle accident
Trooper John H. Gulden
Wednesday, December 23, 1942
Patrolman Thomas J. Hanlin
Saturday, May 26, 1945
Automobile accident
Patrolman Paul H. Johnson
Monday, December 12, 1949
Patrolman Ivan Belka
Saturday, August 18, 1951
Automobile accident
Patrolman Donald R. Campbell
Friday, December 21, 1951
Struck by vehicle
Patrolman John F. Wright
Sunday, June 28, 1953
Vehicular assault
Patrolman Eugene A. Bolstad
Tuesday, September 3, 1957
Patrolman Ernest E. Eichhorn
Tuesday, September 16, 1958
Vehicular assault
Patrolman Wesley H. Whittenberg
Thursday, December 29, 1960
Struck by vehicle
Trooper Clarence C. Johnson
Sunday, September 8, 1968
Automobile accident
Trooper Charles Frank Noble
Saturday, February 5, 1972
Control Officer Joseph A. Modlin
Thursday, August 15, 1974
Struck by vehicle
Trooper Thomas L. Hendrickson
Sunday, November 17, 1974
Vehicular assault
Trooper Glenda Darlene Thomas
Friday, May 24, 1985
Struck by vehicle
Trooper James S. Gain
Monday, March 2, 1987
Struck by vehicle
Trooper Clifford R. Hansell
Wednesday, July 22, 1987
Automobile accident
Trooper Raymond L. Hawn
Wednesday, January 17, 1990
Struck by vehicle
Trooper Steven Lee Frink
Monday, March 22, 1993
Vehicle pursuit
Trooper James E. Saunders
Thursday, October 7, 1999
Trooper Tony Radulescu
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Trooper Sean O'Connell
Friday, May 31, 2013
Motorcycle accident
Detective Brent L. Hanger
Thursday, August 6, 2015
Heart attack

See also[edit]


  1. ^ OFM 2009-11 Agency Detail Budgets
  2. ^ http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/53000.html 2014 Population Estimates
  3. ^ a b USDOJ Bureau of Justice Statistics Census of Law Enforcement Agencies 2004
  4. ^ http://www.wsp.wa.gov/information/releases/2012_archive/mr071612b.htm
  5. ^ "story". KATU TV. Archived from the original on January 7, 2005. 
  6. ^ Washington State Patrol Website http://www.wsp.wa.gov/fire/firemars.htm
  7. ^ "Wash. state troopers named best dressed". AP viaMSNBC. October 24, 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-01. 
  8. ^ http://www.thedailyworld.com/articles/2010/05/10/local_news/doc4be8570159336302295160.txt
  9. ^ "Trooper 'recycled' traffic-arrest facts; Snohomish County will dismiss some cases". The Seattle Times. May 21, 2003. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  10. ^ "State Patrol fires crime lab scientist - His testimony in Montana cited; internal audit is downplayed". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. March 23, 2004. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  11. ^ "Allegations may cast cloud over DUI cases - State lab manager quits after she's accused of signing false statements". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. July 30, 2007. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  12. ^ "State crime-lab chief to resign - Barry Logan, the embattled chief of the state Crime Laboratory, will step down in March". The Seattle Times. February 15, 2008. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  13. ^ "Forensic scientist defends work for State Patrol". The Seattle Times. April 30, 2007. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  14. ^ "Washington State Patrol Recommends Firing Eight Troopers". KUOW News. August 4, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-21. 
  15. ^ "Troopers accused in fake diploma case sue, claim defamation Patrol". KATU News. December 20, 2010. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  16. ^ "Department of Licensing vs. Keith Hughes". Sheri K. Escalante - Notary Public & Court Approved Transcriber. September 13, 2011. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  17. ^ "WSP to investigate allegations of cheating at police academy". The Seattle Times. October 27, 2013. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  18. ^ "State Patrol: Lab manager lied about investigations". Seattle Post-Intelligencer. April 16, 2013. Retrieved 2014-11-02. 
  19. ^ The Officer Down Memorial Page http://www.odmp.org/agency/4114-washington-state-patrol-washington

External links[edit]