Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
New WSP Chief, Lowell Porter
January 9, 2004
Thank you for joining us this afternoon.
It’s a bittersweet moment, as we say goodbye to Chief Serpas and welcome his well-qualified successor.
I have a deep and abiding commitment to the brave men and women of the Washington State Patrol. They serve with such selflessness and sacrifice, honor and humility and valor. It’s our State Patrol, our troopers who are often first at the scene of accidents—treating the injured, protecting the vulnerable, searching out the truth.
Our troopers guard against terrorism, protect our highways from aggressive and drunk drivers, respond to disasters, investigate crimes and help stranded motorists. We depend on our troopers – the premier law enforcement agency in our state – to protect us from harm.
Indeed, in 2002, WSP was proclaimed best law enforcement agency in U.S., according to the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
Today is Chief Serpas’ last day with us. Chief Serpas is leaving to accept a position back as chief of police in Nashville, Tenn.
Chief Serpas is one of the finest chiefs in the history of the Washington State Patrol. He has served as chief of the Washington State Patrol since August 2001. Prior to that, he was superintendent of police and chief of operations of the New Orleans Police Department, the number two job within that agency.
His efforts have made the citizens of Washington safer. He has targeted aggressive and drunk drivers. He has emphasized the state’s ‘Click It or Ticket’ so that Washington leads the nation in seat belt usage. Chief Serpas’ efforts have dramatically reduced the number of traffic fatalities in our state.
Among his many accomplishments, Chief Serpas has addressed head on, the issue of bias in policing. He solicited an independent analysis of more than 2 million traffic stops. The State Patrol was the first law enforcement agency in the country for which the independent analysis showed no evidence of biased policing.
We are sorry to see Chief Serpas leave. But I understand that this is a great opportunity for him to return to the South to be closer to his family and roots and direct a large city police force. The city of Nashville will greatly benefit from his skills.
The citizens of our state thank Ronal Serpas for his service. I commend Chief Serpas and the brave men and women of the State Patrol who go out of their way to make our communities safe for us and our families. Chief Serpas leaves the State Patrol in excellent condition.
Appoint New Chief
Chief Serpas said there was no need for an extensive search for his replacement. There was already one person within the Patrol with the right combination of experience, intelligence and dedication and demeanor to fill this vacancy and carry on the programs initiated by Chief Serpas. It is with great pleasure and honor that I hereby appoint Lowell M. Porter as the new chief of the Washington State Patrol.
Lowell most recently served as deputy chief of the Washington State Patrol and commander of the Field Operations Bureau. The Field Operations Bureau is the largest component of the Washington State Patrol. It includes the eight Patrol Districts and the Special Operations Division.
Lowell has held numerous positions within the State Patrol. He has been commander of the Office of Professional Standards, commander of the Human Resources Division, and coordinator of the Problem Oriented Public Safety program and the Drug Recognition program.
While commander of the Field Operation Bureau, Lowell oversaw a 44 percent increase in DUI arrests, a 21 percent decrease in interstate freeway fatalities, and a 30 percent reduction in citizen complaints against troopers.
Lowell also worked with Washington State University on the racial profiling traffic stop data analysis and chaired the State Patrol’s Traffic Stop Data Committee. He was commissioned as a trooper in 1983.
Lowell’s considerable experience in many facets of the Washington State Patrol will make him an excellent chief. Clearly, he is well-equipped to continue and build on the successful programs of Chief Serpas.