By Tammara Green
The law enforcement system is like a bulls eye. In the very center, there is local city law enforcement, which is the Mattawa Area Police. Although the MPD may assist other law enforcement agencies as needed, they are responsible for patrolling and enforcing the law within the city limits of Mattawa. County would be the next level is County. Grant County responds and enforces anything on a county road and outside of the city limits. If there is an accident on Road U for example, Grant County Sheriff deputies would respond. Even further outside of the scope, but encompassing a much larger area is Washington State Patrol. Washington State Patrol responds to any accident or incident on any of our Washington State Interstates or Highways. If there is a need to close I-90 or 243 for example, Washington State Troopers would be responsible for that. If you ever got a ticket on 243, most likely it was from a Washington State Trooper.
To find out more about what a trooper does, local trooper and public information officer and recruiter for the Washington State Patrol, Trooper Brian Moore drove me through south Grant County from I-90 to the end of 243 at the Vernita Bridge. His district and scope of responsibility ends at the Vernita Bridge on the north side. He is responsible for gathering and filtering all public media information for the Washington State Patrol in Grant, Kittitas, Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan and a small portion of Adams County (district 6). There are eight districts within the WSP. Grant County has about 16 troopers on patrol working different shifts.
“I do community outreach and I am a community liaison officer,” said Trooper Moore.”I will help Wenatchee from time to time as staffing levels are needed.”
Trooper Moore has spent 19 years with the Washington State Patrol. He was just 21 when he was hired. He started out working in the Olympia area. Then he patrolled in Vancouver until he finally moved to Wenatchee to cover district 6.
“The biggest difference in Eastern Washington is that this is a rural beat,” Trooper Moore added. “District 6 is a very rural beat and it is ag and tourism based. We deal with state routs much more on the rural beat.”
Because District 6 encompasses such a large area, the main challenge for WSP is the response time. Response time for an incident can sometimes take a while.
“If a crash happens in Grand Coulee and we are here in Mattawa there is a pretty significant response time.” Trooper Moore said.
Washington State Patrol recently focused on left-lane drivers on the highway who are “traveling” the lane instead of moving over to the right to make way for faster moving vehicles in the left lane. This was called the “Move Over” campaign.
Trooper Moore reiterated that they are always focused on no-seatbelt violations and distracted drivers who may be using their cell phones, putting on makeup or doing any number of things that are either illegal altogether or cause a driver to drive their car in an erratic fashion.
“Distracted driving is a problem across the country right now and the leading cause of death among teen drivers,” Trooper Moore.
One of the areas State Troopers are focusing on locally is the area north of the Vernita Bridge, where there have been several fatalities in recent years. There are still more accidents on the I-90 corridor than in south Grant County according to Trooper Moore.