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Published on Friday, May 20, 2016

Basic Law Enforcement Academy needs more funding to meet recruitment needs

The Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) operates the State’s Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) that trains all new police officers. Currently the CJTC only has enough funding for ten Academy classes in FY 2017. Ten classes accommodates about 300 new recruits. CJTC would like to offer 18 classes which would accommodate about 540 recruits. Initial estimates from cities and counties indicated that there are as many as 660 new hires that will occur in FY 2017. Without the additional classes, there will a substantial backlog for new recruits to get into the Academy that drives up local costs for overtime to backfill while the new officer is awaiting training. The city is also responsible for paying the new officer while they are waiting to get into the Academy.

In order to increase the number of classes in FY 2017, CJTC needs a commitment of an additional $2.4 million in the FY 2017 supplemental budget. AWC is joining the CJTC in asking the Governor to include this additional funding in the second supplemental budget proposal for FY 2017. We are encouraging cities to contact the Governor’s Office as well and to let your legislators know about the need to provide this immediate funding assistance to the CJTC./p>

Additionally, we need cities to talk to legislators about the importance of sustainable ongoing funding for BLEA. In the past few legislative sessions, there have been proposals to require cities to pay more for BLEA. We need to continue reminding the legislature that cities and counties already pay for BLEA with traffic ticket revenue shared with the state.

Here is a little history of the CJTC and BLEA

Why was the Criminal Justice Training Commission created?
In the early 1970s, numerous basic law enforcement trainings were being held around the state – independently taught without standardized curriculum. In response, the Washington Legislature established the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), to provide standardized, mandatory training for law enforcement agencies statewide. Washington was the first state to provide mandated law enforcement training through the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA).

How is the Basic Law Enforcement Academy funded?
To pay for the mandated training, Washington State and local governments agreed that the training would be funded through an added percentage to every traffic ticket written by local law enforcement. In 1984, the state created a special account – the Public Safety and Education Account (PSEA) – where funds were placed to pay for BLEA and other public safety uses. In 2009, the state eliminated the PSEA account and began depositing the dedicated traffic ticket revenue into the general fund. As a result, the funding for BLEA and the CJTC was shifted to the general fund.

How much money do locals send to the PSEA?
With PSEA’s elimination, it is much more difficult to track the funds. However, cities and counties sent the state’s general fund more than $26 million in traffic ticket revenue in FY 2014 (the last year we have current data).