Washington State Patrol recruiting hundreds to replace retiring - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Washington State Patrol recruiting hundreds to replace retiring troopers

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KENNEWICK, Wash.-- The Washington State Patrol needs lots of new recruits this year because hundreds of troopers are reaching retirement age.

WSP hired new recruiters and is having 19 testing events across the state as part of a major push to fill those openings.

Applicants raced across the finish line to beat the clock and pass the first part of their exam, which is fitness.

"They were outstanding. We had a lot of really good female and male applicants that did a great job," said Trooper Chris Thorson, Washington State Patrol.

Being physically fit is just one part of what it takes to join WSP. And even with some great applicants, only so many people make it through each round.

Seventy-six applicants, dropped to 52 after the physical testing. But, that shouldn't discourage any hopefuls. WSP is hoping to find candidates to fill 67 spots in this year's class, to begin replacing the 300 troopers leaving.

After physical testing comes the written exam that typically weeds out another 50% of the applicants.

But there's a growing issue State Patrol is running into and it's eliminating even more from the pool of hopefuls.

"Problems with people using prescription drugs and illegal drugs in the past. That's probably one of our biggest hang ups right now in phase three, our background investigation," Thorson said.

The increased use of prescription pills concerns WSP, but it isn't stopping them from finding good people eager to serve.

"I've always strived to be a good person, do the right thing and this is leading up to it, to the next level," said Marriah Paxton, applicant.

The troopers give applicants a chance to come up before the written exam and ask if any of their past behavior disqualifies them.

Some people asked troopers about drug use and mention how long ago they had used.

Six were told they couldn't continue, but could apply again within a certain number of years from using, depending on the situation.

WSP is encouraging more people to apply.