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Published on Friday, April 21, 2017

Basic Law Enforcement Academy needs supplemental funding – Call your legislators

AWC has been advocating for full funding of additional Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) classes for new recruits. We have been successful getting the Legislature to acknowledge and fund the needed classes in the next biennium, 2017-19. However, it is also important for the Legislature to include additional funding in the supplemental operating budget for the current biennium, 2015-17, to cover the number of classes needed to keep up with training demand.

  • BLEA needs $2.4 million in the current supplemental operating budget. The House included this in their proposal, but the Senate did not. Without the funding, there will be an impact on the number of classes offered in the future creating a six-month backlog, or longer.
  • BLEA also needs funding for 18 classes per year in the coming biennium, 2017-19, to keep up with the number of new recruits needed. The Senate budget funded the full 18 classes, but the House budget only covers 16 per year. Without funding for a full 18 classes, the Training Commission cannot run two classes in Spokane that are important for eastside jurisdictions.

Please call your legislators now about the need for both the supplemental budget funding and the funding for the next biennium. Both are critical to meeting the training demands.

Here are some important facts about BLEA. Washington is a national pioneer in centralized, state-mandated law enforcement training. To pay for the basic police officer training, a portion of local traffic ticket revenue is sent to the state – $22.2 million in fiscal year 2016. Agencies are facing a wave of retirements, with 17 percent of officers eligible for retirement today, and an additional five percent becoming eligible in the next three years. A training backlog impacts public safety, lowering the potential number of officers on the street and costing cities more because they must pay overtime to backfill those positions while still paying salary and benefits to new recruits waiting for training.

Law enforcement training must be prioritized and the Legislature should support increased class funding for the Basic Law Enforcement Academy to ensure that public safety is not compromised.

For more background on BLEA check out this issue brief.