Regional law-enforcement training center has grand opening

Note: The following e-newsletter was sent to Sen. Padden’s subscribers November 1, 2023. To subscribe to Sen. Padden’s newsletter, click here.

Dear friends and neighbors,

On October 19, many local and state officials gathered for the grand-opening ceremony at the Spokane County Sheriff Regional Training Center, near Fairchild Air Force Base. 

KHQ-TV televised a story on the grand-opening event.

Senator Padden speaks at the grand-opening ceremony of the regional law-enforcement training center near Fairchild Air Force Base.

The new training center, which is a state-of-the-art facility, will enhance public safety for everyone in Spokane County – officers and citizens alike. The center is the result of a joint effort between the U.S. Air Force and Spokane County. I commend the Air Force and the county for their excellent job of planning, funding and constructing this outstanding facility.

It will be used by several law-enforcement agencies in the area, including officers with the Spokane Valley Police Department and the county sheriff’s staff who serve in unincorporated areas. It’s encouraging to know that most law-enforcement officers in the 4th Legislative District will train at this new center.

The new training center will greatly reduce the backlog for training officers across the state. It’s important to note that Washington ranks last among all states for the number of law-enforcement officers per capita.

After the grand-opening ceremony ended, speakers and attendees received a tour of the new facility, which includes a high-tech simulation room in which officers will practice handling various situations with possible suspects. The facility also has an indoor firing range, featuring 21 lanes that are 50 meters in length. The range has adjustable lighting to enable daylight, dusk or night-time conditions. It can simulate multiple environments and will accommodate vehicles inside the facility to further enhance training. The training facility also has classrooms, offices and an armory on site.

If you have questions about how to participate in state government this year or thoughts to share on anything in this e-newsletter, please give me a call or send me an email.

Thank you, as always, for the honor of serving as your state senator!

Best Regards,

Senator Mike Padden

Violent crime here rises while nation sees decrease

Violent crime throughout the U.S. has dropped slightly over the past year, but that is not the case here in Washington.

An October 23 story in The Center Square reported that while the national violent crime rate dropped by 1.7% from 2021 to 2022, our state saw an increase of 1.06% in violent crime during this period, according to the FBI. KIRO-TV in Seattle also broadcast a story on the rise in violent crime here.

The increase in violent crimes in our state is a major problem. There are factors that have contributed to this increase, including – as mentioned above – having the lowest number of police officers per capita of any state in the U.S., and a state law (modified slightly by the Legislature this spring) that makes it harder for law-enforcement officers to pursue suspects. Reducing the penalty for the possession of hard drugs such as fentanyl has also contributed to the increased in crime.

Area legislators tour Spokane community colleges

Senator Padden and 9th District Senator Mark Schoesler (right) listen to Chancellor Kevin Brockbank during the Community Colleges of Spokane Legislative Tour. 

On October 23, other local legislators and I went on a Community Colleges of Spokane tour, held on the Spokane Community College campus. During our tour, we visited several departments and learned what SCC and SFCC are teaching students. The information that Chancellor Kevin Brockbank and college instructors provided us during the tour was very helpful, as we learned very much about different programs.

An official welcome for new EWU President McMahan

Senator Padden and Senator Schoesler (left) with Swoop, the Eastern mascot.

A few hours after the community college tour, I was one of several area legislators who visited the Eastern Washington University campus in Cheney for the ceremony officially recognizing new EWU President McMahan as the university’s 27th president. Afterward, I attended the reception in her honor. President McMahan has done a very good job in her important role at Eastern. You can read the Spokesman-Review’s story about the ceremony here.     

Small-business center opening event

The Washington Small Business Development Center in Spokane Valley.

On October 26, many local officials and citizens attended the ribbon-cutting and grand-opening celebration event for the Washington Small Business Development Center’s new headquarters/lead center office, located in Spokane Valley at The Quarry in the Spokane Conservation District.

New data shows how much 4th District has grown since 2020

This map shows population changes in the state’s legislative districts since 2020.

Each year, the Office of Financial Management’s population division provides an estimate of various geographic populations in Washington, including legislative districts. 

OFM’s latest figures on legislative districts’ populations reveal that in the three years since the latest federal census, some districts have seen much greater growth than others, ranging from an increase of only 1,100 people (in Pierce County’s 28th District) to nearly 15,000 people (in Seattle’s 43rd District). 

Residents of the 4th District will be interested to know that ours is among the fastest-growing legislative districts in our state. Its population has climbed from 157,051 to 163,373, an increase of 6,322 (or 4.03%). Of Washington’s 49 legislative districts, the 4th District ranks 13th in population growth in the past three years, and it has seen the second-highest population increase of any legislative district in eastern Washington, behind only the 8th District (the Tri-Cities area).   

Grand Coulee Dam tour

Grand Coulee Dam.

The Grand Coulee Dam is the largest hydroelectric power station in the United States. It provides, on a yearly average, 21 million megawatt hours of hydropower to eight western states and Canada. The Grand Coulee, which is the largest of the 11 dams on the Columbia River in our state, provides irrigation and helps increase stream flow for the migration of fish. This hydroenergy powerhouse is a blessing on both the national and state level. 

On October 18, our office participated in a bus tour to see the world-famous dam. The tour was organized by the Inland Power and Light Company. Other legislators from our region took part in the tour, as did staffers from the offices of our state’s two U.S. senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and the offices of U.S. Representatives Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse.

California ban (identical to Washington ban) on modern sporting rifles might go to nation’s highest court

During this year’s session our Democrat-controlled Legislature passed a law banning modern sporting rifles that are popular firearms 

As the language in our state’s new ban is almost identical to California’s prohibition on such rifles, it’s worth noting California’s ban is in legal jeopardy, having been overturned last month by a federal judge. (The judge previously ruled against the ban in 2021.)

A story by The Associated Press covers why the judge issued a second ruling against the California ban: 

U.S. District Judge Roger Benitez of San Diego conceded that powerful weapons like AR-15 rifles are commonly used by criminals, but said the guns are importantly also owned by people who obey the law and feel they need firearms to protect themselves. 

Contact us!

If you have a question or concern about state government, please do not hesitate to contact our office. During the interim we are conducting business from our district office in Spokane Valley. We are here to serve you!

Phone: (509) 921-2460

Email address:

PLEASE NOTE: Any email or documents you provide to this office may be subject to disclosure under RCW 42.56. If you would prefer to communicate by phone, please contact Sen. Padden’s Olympia office at (360) 786-7606.

To request public records from Sen. Padden, please contact Randi Stratton, the designated public records officer for the Secretary of the Senate and Senate members.