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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Austrian Trades Career As Doctor For State Patrol Trooper

Austin Jenkins
Northwest News Network
Trooper Robert Reyer poses with his wife Christina at a trooper graduation ceremony at the Washington Capitol. Originally from Austria, Reyer trained to become a doctor before moving to Washington to pursue his dream of working in law enforcement.

The Washington State Patrol has put another dent in its trooper shortage. Forty-nine new troopers were sworn-in Wednesday at a ceremony in the Capitol rotunda.

Among the troopers in formation was Robert Reyer of Salzburg, Austria. ??

So how did Reyer end up in the Washington State Patrol? The short story is he fell in love with an American exchange student from Washington. She is now his wife.

But it’s the career he left behind that caused a terrible rift with his parents. Reyer was training to become a doctor in Austria. But he moved to Washington to follow his heart and his dream of a career in law enforcement.

Reyer said his mother still won’t speak to him. ??

“But now my dad said he’s proud of me for choosing this profession where I can be out there every day and make sure people go home,” he said.

In fact, Reyer’s father came from Austria for the graduation. ?

Reyer, who’s now a U.S. citizen, said he was dedicating his graduation day to Trooper Tony Radulescu who was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2012. Like Reyer, Radulescu was born in central Europe and emigrated to the United States. ??

The Washington State Patrol has been struggling to recruit and retain troopers. The latest transportation budget passed by state lawmakers includes another round of pay raises -- 11 percent for troopers and 15 percent for sergeants and above -- designed to address the issue. With Reyer and his fellow graduates hitting the road, the Patrol’s trooper vacancy drops below 100.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."