House approves Rep. Dan Griffey bill to let Fish and Wildlife Officers work off-duty, private security

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) officers would be able to work private law enforcement side jobs under a bill from Rep. Dan Griffey, Allyn, that passed the House over the weekend.

If approved in the Senate and signed into law, Griffey says House Bill 1369 would boost public safety by allowing WDFW officers to work the same private law enforcement jobs as Washington State Patrol (WSP) troopers can.

“As Washington deals with a shortage of law enforcement officers, it is important that those state-trained officers are protecting the public,” said Griffey. “WSP and WDFW are the only law enforcement agencies in the state with general authority and statewide jurisdiction.”

House Bill 1369 requires the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife to encourage its officers to work off-duty law enforcement jobs and directs the WDFW chief to create policy guidelines. It also clarifies that the state is not liable for an off-duty officer’s conduct.

WDFW Lieutenant Erik Olson testified in support of the bill on behalf of the agency during a hearing in the House Community Safety, Justice, and Reentry Committee earlier in the 2023 session.

“Without a certain number of uniformed officers, the NFL will not allow a game to be played. The primary mission of the off-duty officer is to work the games to preserve life, deter terrorism, and to enforce Washington state law,” said Olson. “To put it succinctly, off-duty law enforcement employment helps ensure the safety of the public.”

Some on the committee raised concerns about the potential of officers taking on too much overtime and burning out. But Griffey stressed the agency itself has the rule-making authority on limits to taking on private work.

“When applying for off-duty employment, every officer signs a document that clarifies their first priority is to the department. This helps ensure the needs of the department are met first, and foremost,” Olson explained.

WATCH: Rep. Griffey presents HB 1369 in committee

Some tribal members have voiced concern about the type of training WDFW officers receive compared to traditional officers. But, Griffey stressed WDFW officers are fully commissioned law enforcement officers that go through the same training – including bias training – as WSP troopers.

“They go through the same basic law enforcement training as fully commissioned officers in Washington state,” said Griffey. “I understand why some might raise such concerns but I am confident they are unfounded.

“We are talking about WDFW officers doing private law enforcement work at places like Seahawks games, large concerts and construction sites to help ensure security or direct traffic,” added Griffey. “This is about helping protect the public by filling the gaps in these after-hours security jobs that we do not have enough traditional officers to fill.”

House Bill 1369 passed out of the House unanimously and now moves to the Senate.

###

Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov