Washington State Patrol

Size and Population

  • Washington State Patrol covers 71,362 square miles (184,830km).
  • The estimated population of Washington in 2016 was 7,288,000.
  • The agency is responsible for the protection of the Governor of Washington and the grounds of the Washington State Capitol.
  • They provide security aboard the vessels and terminals of the Washington State Ferries.
  • Washington State Patrol is in charge of law enforcement on interstate and state highways in Washington.


  • Washington State Highway Patrol was established in 1921 for traffic enforcement.
  • In 1933, it was renamed and reconstituted as the Washington State Patrol, becoming an armed, mobile police force.
  • A Criminal Investigation Division was added in 1939, and the WSP academy was established in 1947.
  • In the 1960s, the State Patrol gained a reputation as the state’s most elite law enforcement agency.
  • In 1975, the first two female troopers were commissioned, and in 1995, the first female chief of the State Patrol was appointed.


  • The State Patrol is administered by a chief appointed by the Governor of Washington.
  • Specialized units include SWAT, Rapid Deployment Forces, Motors Team, Honor Guard, and Criminal Investigations Division.
  • The State Patrol manages the Washington Fusion Center, which coordinates anti-terrorist and anti-organized crime activities.
  • The Executive Services Section is responsible for the protection of the Governor and his family, the Governor-Elect, and securing the executive residence and government facilities.
  • Vessel and Terminal Security is responsible for shipboard law enforcement on Washington State Ferries and monitoring CCTV cameras.


  • Candidates undergo seven weeks of arming training at the Washington State Patrol Academy.
  • Trooper Basic Cadet Class consists of 28 weeks of classroom instruction and eight weeks of field training.
  • After completion, candidates are administered the Troopers Oath and commissioned as peace officers by the Governor.
  • The State Patrol Academy exclusively trains State Patrol troopers, while other law enforcement officers in the state are trained by the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission.
  • The WSP academy is a residential academy, and cadets are barracked on-campus during training.


  • Washington State Highway Patrol personnel started wearing uniforms in 1924, consisting of grey jackets and riding breeches with brown leather accessories.
  • In 1928, the uniforms switched to a green pattern with black leather accoutrements.
  • The State Patrol utilizes various equipment, including Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors and H&K MP5 submachine guns.
  • Uniforms have evolved over time, reflecting changes in fashion and functionality.
  • The State Patrol Academy is used for training troopers and is also utilized by the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission for emergency vehicle operations courses.
« Back to Glossary Index