Most Wash. patrol hopefuls won't make the cut

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - Most applicants to the Washington State Patrol won't make the cut. Only one in 40 trooper applicants ever get to wear a badge.

Only 2.5 percent of those who apply get the job, according to Trooper Guy Gill, spokesman and District One recruiter. "We would rather run short than have subpar people working for this agency, period," Gill said.

More than 320 troopers will be eligible to retire by the end of 2017, and the patrol wants to hire 67 cadets for a class in July, The Olympian ( http://bit.ly/Z7XXby) reported in Sunday's newspaper.

Their first test will be physical: If they can run 1 1/2 miles and do a number of situps and pushups within the required time, they will move on to the written exam. A class of potential troopers faced those challenges last week.

More than 150 applicants signed up for Saturday's test. Only 91 showed up, and more than half will be cut before the end of the day.

The first cuts came during the weigh-in: Candidates have to meet height and weight requirements to move on. For example, a man standing at 6 feet between the ages of 21 and 29 can weigh a maximum of 204 pounds. A woman in the same age range standing 5-feet, 7-inches tall can weigh no more than 165 pounds.

The only way around the requirement is by body-fat percentage. Men must have 20 percent or less body fat and women 26 percent or less.

The candidates were directed to a room at the General Administration Building for an introduction. It was standing room only, but not for long.

"Not everyone is going to be successful here today, and that's OK," Gill said to the group. "How many have been here before?"

At least a third of the room raised hands. One candidate, a man from Las Vegas, was back for a third attempt.

"We will work with you," Gill said. "If you don't get through, don't get your heads down too much."

Third time was the charm for that candidate. He passed the physical, written and oral exams.

The introduction gave the candidates an idea of what was going to happen during the day's training, as well as what kind of career they were getting themselves into.

"Who knows what happened on Feb. 23, 2012?" asked Sgt. Troy Tomaras.

A candidate said it was the day Trooper Tony Radulescu was shot and killed in Kitsap County near Gorst.

"People are out there that would want to kill you," Tomaras said. "It's a lifestyle choice, and you have to stay fit and be ready." The physical test was the end of the road for 25 candidates.

Leah Mixon, a 30-year-old mother of two from Tacoma, blew through her required 11 pushup minimum and finished strong at a pace of one pushup per second. She slammed her fists on the ground after finishing 60 seconds of sit-ups, missing her personal goal of 40. She only needed 25 to pass, but managed to complete 38.

Mixon finished the run fourth out of all the candidates.

While many trained specifically for the physical test, Mixon didn't have to. The gym has been the East Coast native's escape since her divorce from a Joint Base Lewis McChord soldier.

"I just have to be tough _ that's me," Mixon said. "I have no help, two children and an ex that is deployed. . The gym has been my outlet, my home away from home."

Mixon didn't let the success of the physical test go to her head: She knew she had the written exam next.

"These tests are situational, multi-choice questions that are going to judge your common sense and how you react in certain situations," Gill said. "You don't need any law enforcement background to take these tests at all."

Of the 62 applicants who took the written test, 22 failed.

Next is an interview by a panel of three troopers. They are asked various background questions, as well as situational questions.

"It gives us time to get to know the applicant a bit," Gill said. "Then we go into situational questions."

Mixon is scheduled for a polygraph test later this month as part of a background check. Then it's on to a medical and psychological test.

___

Information from: The Olympian, http://www.theolympian.com


(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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