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Published on Friday, February 26, 2016

Senate budget cuts Basic Law Enforcement Academy funds

On February 24 the Senate released its budget with big changes to the funding structure of the Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA), greatly shifting the burden to local governments.

Specifically, the proposed Senate budget requires agencies that hire, on average, more than ten officers per year (Seattle, Bellevue, Spokane, King County, Pierce County, and Spokane County) to pay a 75 percent match for training costs, up from the currently required 25 percent match. Agencies that hire an average of 5-9 recruits per year will have to pay a 50 percent match. This includes Auburn, Kent, Renton, Kirkland, Everett, Yakima, Spokane, and others. Essentially, the Senate proposal cuts over $880,000 from BLEA and requires them to collect the balance from local jurisdictions. For a partial list of potentially impacted agencies see here.

In addition to the cuts, the Senate proposed budget does not include requested supplemental funding to add additional BLEA classes that are needed this year to keep up with increasing demand. BLEA estimates this loss will result in the cancellation of additional academy classes scheduled to begin in March. As an example, that means the recruits currently slated to begin training in the next three months will have to wait until July. This will create a domino effect on training slots to all agencies in the second half of 2016. The current five-month wait for a recruit to get into the academy will likely become a ten-month wait, exceeding the state mandate for new officers to be trained within six months of hire.

Please contact your Senator and let them know how devastating these cuts will be to your city, how they will impact your budget, and how they affect public safety in your community moving forward. To learn more about the funding history of BLEA and how much cities currently contribute see here.