OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste has heard the criticism his agency is too white and too male.
While he said diversifying the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is a priority of his, he told lawmakers Wednesday it is a challenge.
According to WSP, 86.5 percent of commissioned troopers are white and 90 percent are male.
Following a consultant’s report calling for more emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the office created an office and website on diversity, recruiting campaigns are targeted at minority communities, and WSP has a goal to have 30 percent of the agency made up of female employees by 2030.
Those changes and goals were not enough to keep lawmakers from asking Batiste what else the agency has planned.
“Do you have a definite date for when you’d like to increase the number of African Americans or other people of color?” asked Rep. Debra Entenman (D-Covington).
Rep. Jamila Taylor (D-Federal Way) said past attempts at diversification within WSP produced “dismal results.”
State Representative John Lovick (D-Snohomish County,) a former WSP Trooper, asked Batiste, “Can you tell me why you haven’t been able to make the WSP more appealing to a more diverse set of candidates?”
“I wish I had an easy answer,” said Batiste, who added he and his staff are working “very, very hard at this.”
“This is a profession in particular over the course of the last many years that has struggled with regards to community acceptance to some degree as a profession, which has made it a lot more difficult to recruit folks within the diverse communities,” said Batiste.