“No…we haven’t picked out names for them yet, but we probably should!” said Sergeant Darren Wright jokingly.
Standing outside of the Washington State Patrol (WSP) headquarters in Olympia, Sgt. Wright rolled out the agency’s newest patrol vehicle: A Polaris Side-by-Side All Terrain UTV.
“Just wait until you see what these things can do,” Sgt. Wright added.
Through funding provided by the Department of Enterprise Services (who oversees the Capitol Campus in Olympia), the WSP purchased two of the Polaris vehicles in order to better patrol the grounds.
“We are excited to be part of this partnership with the Washington State Patrol, and believe the new vehicles will help boost public safety and reduce troopers’ response times to emergencies on the 450-plus acre Capitol Campus,” said Bob Covington, Enterprise Services Director of Capitol Security & Visitor Services. “Timely response is essential on a Capitol Campus. Hundreds of thousands of people visit each year — including people attending more than 400 events and 25,000 children taking civic education tours — and more than 6,000 state employees do their daily work here. Safety for everyone on campus is our priority.”
Sgt. Wright explains that when it comes to safety, “seconds matter.” Not only do the vehicles allow troopers to reach previously inaccessible terrain, they are also equipped with life-saving equipment, such as a first aid kit, NARCAN, a tourniquet, and a defibrillator. With more than 450 acres to cover, it is important that troopers can not only access every corner of the campus but also do it in a timely manner.
The UTV’s have also been modified with lights, sirens, turn signals, and identifiable Washington State Patrol decals— making it street legal. They also turn a lot of heads…in a good way. Troopers have noticed an increase of community engagement because of the vehicles. “It’s great to see members of the community coming up and talking to us about these new UTVs. It’s a great way to build relationships,” says Sgt. Wright.
However, not everyone in the agency is allowed to drive the UTVs. The new vehicles are assigned to the Washington State Patrol Special Operations Division’s Capitol Campus team (who provide security for the grounds). Those troopers must undergo extensive specialized training and follow a lengthy use policy. Sgt. Wright explains that UTVS are already being used by multiple first responder agencies, and believes that these new vehicles are going to make a big difference.