OLYMPIA, Wash. -- State Patrol vacancies have reached a historic level, meaning there are not enough troopers on the roads.
It's one of the most dangerous jobs in the state -- and one of the lowest paid, too.
"We're dead last," WSP Public Information Officer Kyle Moore explained at headquarters.
Dead last in pay compared to all other police departments and sheriff's offices in the state.
"We're losing troopers to other law enforcement agencies. We're losing about nine a month," Moore added.
That includes retiring troopers. Right now there are 80 who could walk out the door at any time. This translates to a whopping 106 vacancies of field troopers. The field division patrols the road. So potentially every time you get behind the wheel there's less enforcement protecting you.
"We can't pull as many DUI drivers, we can't clear collisions as quickly, which means you're going to have traffic backups," Moore explained.
District 7, which includes the Seattle metro area, is down 14 troopers. District 8, headquartered in Snohomish County, is down 20.
WSP graduated 25 troopers, and another 55 start the academy in the coming days.
"Losing nine a month if you count that over a year, 55 is going to be helpful but is not going to fill that hole," Moore said. "This is a long-term issue, if we don't solve this we're going to have half the service that we normally have."
WSP is now targeting millennials with a recently launched advertising campaign on Pandora Radio. The campaign intentionally featured WSP's newest, youngest troopers in order to reach their target audience.
No decisions have been made yet regarding increasing pay.