Washington State Patrol changes the way it screens applicants

The Washington State Patrol is changing the way it screens applicants for employment, choosing to look at the “whole person” before making a decision on hiring.

Previously, the State Patrol had a rigid list of disqualifiers, which it presented to applicants at the very beginning of the hiring process. The agency is concerned that some applicants incorrectly thought they might not qualify for employment.

“We believe we’ve been scaring off some applicants who would have made fine employees,” said Captain Rob Huss, commander of WSP’s Government and Media Relations Office. “This new process will allow us to learn more about the whole person, and make a better informed decision.”

We encourage anyone with an interest in law enforcement to apply, as the Patrol has more than 223 troopers and sergeants eligible to retire between now and 2017. There are also many non-uniform positions available in the agency. He especially hopes that those who looked at the disqualifiers and chose not to proceed will give the process another look.

The new approach does not mean the agency is lowering its standards. WSP has a very detailed hiring process, which is still more-than-capable of detecting those who might be unqualified to work in law enforcement. The agency’s commitment to hiring only the best has not changed.

WSP surveyed many peer agencies around the country before making this adjustment. The common denominator was looking at the whole person rather than using a rigid list of disqualifiers right off the bat.

“We know that those with more life experience make better employees, and life experiences aren’t always positive,” Huss said. “The burden will be on the candidate to explain how they’ve grown from their experiences, but we’ll now be more willing to listen.”

Obviously, there are still some behaviors that are not compatible with ever serving in law enforcement. Those include felonies, domestic violence, or sale of drugs.

For more information on joining the Washington State Patrol, go to and click the “Employment” link at the top of the page.


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