Auburn woman fulfills dream, joins WSP

For rookie Trooper Angela Hayes, her recent graduation from the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Academy is the culmination of a 16-year long dream.

Hayes perseveres to earn her way

on the state force

For rookie Trooper Angela Hayes, her recent graduation from the Washington State Patrol (WSP) Academy is the culmination of a 16-year long dream.

“I decided to do this when I was 16,” Hayes, 32, said. “I was involved in a fatality car crash where drinking was involved.”

According to Hayes, a Lake Tapps native who attended the Dieringer School District and graduated from Auburn High School in 1993, the accident spurred her to get involved.

She began speaking at citizen’s panels, where she shared her experience with the dangers of drinking and driving, often appearing with several members of the law enforcement community.

It was this exposure that first set her mind on a path in law enforcement.

Her first step was as an Explorer with the Puyallup Police Department, a program that allows high school students a chance to get a taste of what a career in law enforcement is like.

“The earlier years I was more into the city officer job,” she said. “But they (State Patrol and city police) are really two totally different jobs.”

Hayes explained that unlike the city police – who focus more on fighting crime in their cities – the state patrol’s emphasis is narrower, with DUI enforcement and accident investigation the priorities.

Because of the need to interact with the public in high stress situations, like accidents, Hayes said that customer service is a big part of the job.

In addition, she said the paramilitary nature of the WSP’s organization was also a draw.

“I love that,” she said. “We have to be professional. There is a lot of latitude, but we have to be accountable.”

After graduation, Hayes said she attended Washington State University for a while, before returning to Western Washington where she began working for Valley Freightliner in Pacific.

While there she remained involved with law enforcement as a reserve officer.

Making it happen

After 11 years with Valley, Hayes knew it was time to fulfill her dream.

In December of 2007 Hayes made her first step toward becoming a trooper by attending the Arming Academy at the WSP Academy in Shelton.

During this intensive seven-week course Hayes was taught how to handle the weaponry used by the WSP.

After graduating from Arming Academy, Hayes worked as an armed WSP cadet at the governor’s mansion in Olympia, as well as in Seattle, for 10 months before beginning her official academy training.

According to Hayes the 10-month break between arming and regular academy was fortuitous, giving her an opportunity to get in better shape.

“Before the Arming Academy I thought I was physically ready,” she said. “But that just gave me a taste of (what was expected). I worked with a personal trainer for 10 months to get ready.

“Basic is a pretty rough paramilitary training,” Hayes continued. “You have to live by military standards. Your beds have to be just right, you can’t have any lint or anything on your uniform. You can’t even have any dirt on the shoes in your closet. Otherwise you have to go to ‘The Pit,’ which is the place for discipline.”

In addition to the high physical standards, Hayes said that cadets are required to take more than 150 hours of driving instruction at the 2.7-mile long drive course, including basic skills and high speed drills.

On April 16, after finishing more than 26 weeks of instruction, as well as six weeks of on the job coaching, Trooper Hayes officially took to the highways in Seattle as newly minted Washington State Patrol officer.

So far she’s found plenty of success on the job.

“I’ve done six night shifts and had six DUIs,” she said.

For those looking to pursue careers in the WSP, or any law enforcement agencies, Hayes recommended starting with either the reserve or the Explorers.

“You’ve really got to get out and do it, or you don’t know what it’s all about,” she said.

But most of all, she recommends that prospective troopers know what they’re getting into.

“A lot of people think it’s all about fighting crime and stopping bad guys,” she said. “But it’s not always about the guns and speed. It’s just something that’s in you. It’s about helping people when they need it the most.”