B-WSPD new recruit

Madelynn McIlwain receives her certificate of graduation from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien on Dec. 14. At left is Bingen-White Salmon Police Department Chief Mike Hepner, who was on hand to offer his congratulations. (Submitted photo)

The newest recruit to the Bingen-White Salmon Police Department joined the agency’s ranks last month.

The Bingen-White Salmon Police Dept recruited Madelynn McIlwain, originally from Washougal, in June. Following preliminary training with the agency and graduation from the Basic Law Enforcement Academy in Burien last month, McIlwain was sworn in as the community’s newest law enforcement officer.

Since then, McIwain said, she has been conducting trainings in the form of ride-alongs primarily with Sgt. Frank Randall and Chief Mike Hepner as part of the field training experience, which lasts three months.

McIlwain said that, from a young age, she had wanted to work in the Bingen-White Salmon area. During a stint coaching and working as security for a high school in Hillsboro, Ore., McIlwain said she became more interested in the work of law enforcement while working closely with the school’s Student Resource Officer (a law enforcement officer responsible for safety and crime prevention in schools).

“[The Student Resource Officer] was able to make a huge change in some kids lives: kids you wouldn’t normally expect to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and work their life out. She really helped them do that and she made a huge difference and she’s one of the only people that I’ve seen that has such a big impact on a community,” McIlwain said.

“It kind of opened my eyes up to that because I never really thought about being a [law enforcement officer] before then and after I saw that, I was like, yeah I could do that. So I applied,” she said.

 McIlwain described the process she undertook in order to join the ranks of one of the many law enforcement agencies across the state.

Through the company Public Safety Testing, which standardizes the process applicants use to apply to positions in public safety, McIlwain took a writing test and a physical exam. Through Public Safety Testing, her results were shared with multiple different agencies she requested. The B-WSPD extended an offer of employment to McIlwain, which she said was her first choice.

In addition to the preliminary writing and physical examinations, to become an officer in the state of Washington, prospective recruits must also undergo a psychological examination, a background check, and a polygraph (lie detector) test. After passing those tests, an agency can then recommend the recruit to the Basic Law Enforcement Academy. Graduation from the BLEA is the last criteria to fulfill before being recognized as a police officer in Washington.

Recruits cannot sign up for the BLEA without an offer of employment from one of 272 recognized law enforcement agencies in the state. At the BLEA in Burien, recruits take part in a 720-hour curriculum which consists of courses in criminal law and procedures, traffic enforcement, cultural awareness, and crisis intervention, among others.

After  her graduation on Dec. 14, McIlwain started her three-month field training process in White Salmon.

 “I love White Salmon, this area, this small-town vibe,” McIlwain said about the community. “I like that part of law enforcement. I think you can get drowned out in bigger agencies and you don’t quite get to see the same people every day and work closely with the community like you do in White Salmon,” McIlwain said.

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