Fairness for state Fish and Wildlife officers

State Department of Fish and Wildlife officers are a sometimes-overlooked-but-important part of Washington state’s law enforcement community. That is why state Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake sponsored Senate Bill 5481, which would reform how these officers are treated when it comes to collective bargaining and puts them on par with other state-level first responders.

“Law enforcement is a challenging profession, particularly when an agency is at a structural disadvantage,” said Warnick. “This bill puts them on a level playing field, creates fairness and allows them to recruit and keep the talent they need to do their jobs effectively.”

Under the bill that was approved unanimously, Fish and Wildlife officers below a certain rank would shift to a different collective bargaining agreement. In addition, the proposal would provide interest arbitration when at an impasse since they do not have the right to strike.

“Fish and Wildlife officers face tough working conditions – often first on the scene in remote locations,” Warnick added. “This legislation acknowledges that they do just as much valuable and dangerous work and should be treated fairly.”

Warnick’s bipartisan bill now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.