Washington cities in the process of boosting their police force won’t be doing so alone, as the Legislature this session agreed to continue funding the bulk cost of law enforcement training.
Bellevue Government Affairs Director Joyce Nichols came before the city council in February to report a concerning Senate bill, which would have required municipal governments to pay the full cost of police academy basic training for officers. Historically, cities and counties have paid 25 percent and the state covers 75 percent of the reimbursement to the Criminal Justice Training Commission.
Nichols said it was great news to find the Legislature decided to fully fund the criminal justice fund used for reimbursing training costs, especially when Bellevue is replacing retiring officers and expanding its department. The state Office of Financial Management estimates it costs $10,000 to train an officer.
“I was very happy that the Legislature made the decision not to cut the funding for the training, because it would have been a significant impact,” said Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett, “not only on the BPD, but all of the police departments in the state.”
Mylett made one-on-one interviews with BPD employees a goal when he signed on with the department in April, and said staffing has been a main concern he’s heard during those meetings.
“Unfortunately, we do have some employees who are leaving for various reasons, and almost all of the reasons have to do with family issues or personal reasons,” he said, adding those leaving the BPD are not expressing dissatisfaction with the department.
The chief said 15 officers — a combination of new recruits and officers joining from other departments — are currently involved in the field training officer program.
“We take a step back every once in a while, but as long as we’re moving forward we’re heading in the right direction,” Mylett said.