Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
Washington State Patrol Cadet Trooper Graduation
July 1, 2003
Good afternoon. Congratulations to this 89th trooper graduating class.
The 35 men and women we honor today have completed an arduous course. Several months of intense study. Hard work at the academy. More hard work on field training trips. Sleepless nights. Stressful days. Second thoughts. Soul searching. Gut checks.
Well, you’ve made it. And we are all very proud of you. Welcome to the Washington State Patrol.
Today you join a very proud tradition. This tradition began more than eighty years ago, back in 1921. Six brave patrolmen kick-started their Harleys, and the Washington State Patrol was born.
I have a unique relationship with the men and women of the State Patrol. They not only serve under my administration—they also guard my family. They keep us out of harm’s way. They are our friends. We lost one such friend in 1999—Trooper Jim Saunders, the last Washington State Patrol officer to die in the line of duty. I would like to acknowledge his widow, Billie, who joins us today. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with you and your beautiful children.
And we are again sadly reminded of the risks of law enforcement by today’s memorial service for Chelan County Deputy Sheriff Saul Gallegos.
Today’s graduates join a tradition of courage, service, public safety and duty.
Each of you today answers a sense of duty. No one can say exactly where this comes from, only that it is deep within certain people. Such people place the needs of society above their own needs.
Such are the men and women of the Washington State Patrol—and such are our 35 graduating cadets this afternoon. Every one of you answers that call of duty that comes from within. We are all humbly grateful that you do.
You are also drawn to public service, and we’re grateful for that too. Because of your career choice, we already know a lot about you. You are the ones who always want to help. You are not afraid to get involved. You find satisfaction in assisting others. You want to make a difference. I assure you, each of you will make a difference. Every day, one person and one situation at a time.
Today you join Washington’s premier law enforcement agency. You will safeguard our highways, investigate crimes, and help to see that justice is served. You will help keep our state safer and saner. We are grateful for that as well.
To you family members here today, congratulations! If you think back, this day probably explains a lot. Now you know why your new trooper always liked those bow ties. And why they were always so good at suggesting improvements to your driving.
I know you are all very proud your graduates. I want to congratulate you, too, for doing such a great job of supporting and encouraging these new troopers. On behalf of the citizens of this state, thank you.
Our troopers need our support, now more than ever. One our greatest challenges right now is the controversy about “profiling.”
I am proud that the State Patrol recently took the initiative on this issue. We gathered data on some two million traffic stops in the last two years. And it’s been analyzed by experts from Washington State University.
And I’m even prouder that the analysis shows that race is not a factor in either stopping drivers or writing tickets. You new troopers are joining an organization that treats people fairly. Fairly in its official policies and fairly in the day-to-day conduct of its members.
This same study found that most non-white drivers believe race is a factor in traffic enforcement. That means we face another challenge. We must keep on showing, by our actions and our words, that no one is stopped, ticketed, or searched because of race.
I know that the State Patrol will keep up the fight against bias and the perception of bias. And I am sure that each of you will contribute to that effort.
To our new troopers: congratulations and good luck. Be careful out there. Be safe. Be vigilant. Today’s memorial service for Chelan County Deputy Sheriff Saul Gallegos reminds us once again that there’s no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Rely on your training, and keep faith with the virtues and values that brought you this far. Watch out for yourself as you would watch out for others.
Finally—be proud. Because we sure are. God Bless you, and God Bless the Washington State Patrol.