New law allows non-citizens to apply for law enforcement, firefighting positions

New law allows non-citizens to apply for law enforcement, firefighting positions.

YAKIMA, Wash.- The Yakima Police Department has been dealing with an officer shortage for quite some time now, but a new law could help them fill some of those openings.

“It'll add more people to the pool that we can draw from. I think it's estimated that in the state of Washington, another 260,000 people are now eligible to become a law enforcement officer,” Mike Bastinelli with YPD said.

Senate Bill 6145 was passed during this year's legislative session and changes the qualifications for police and firefighters.

Before you needed to be a citizen to apply.

Now you just need to be a legal permanent resident with a clean criminal record, who speaks and writes in English.

Representative Matt Manweller in Ellensburg voted in favor of the bill and said it doesn't make sense to limit potential applicants for these positions.

“They're permanent residents. They are here legally. If they can pass the same background checks and civil service test that anybody else passed, then they should be eligible to apply for the job,” he said.

Especially here in the valley.

Manweller said now there's an opportunity to have more bilingual officers on the streets.

“You're going to need government officers who can communicate in both languages, who understand multiple cultures. So, I think in any rural agricultural area, this is a good idea,” he said.

Like many short-staffed departments in the state, Bastinelli said they're always looking to hire new officers.

He said you can enlist to serve your country without being a citizen. So, why can't you serve your community?

“You can join the military, if you're a permanent legal resident so now you can become a police officer,” he said.

Those interested in applying for a job as a police officer or firefighter must first pass a public safety test.

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