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Law

Patti Cole-Tindall will serve as interim King County sheriff

Patti Cole Tindall
Bellamy Pailthorp
/
KNKX
Patti Cole-Tindall speaks at a news conference Tuesday announcing her appointment as interim King County sheriff. She will assume that role on Jan. 1.

There’s a new sheriff in town. The No. 2 in command at the King County Sheriff’s Office will become interim chief, starting Jan. 1.

Patti Cole-Tindall has been with the department for six years. The 57-year-old Kent resident has worked for the past 18 months as its undersheriff. Prior to that, she was the county's director of labor relations, capping nearly three decades of public service.

It is my belief that building trust with the community starts here at the top. And that shift will begin on day one,” she said at the news conference announcing her appointment.   

She’s Black and will be the first person of color to serve as King County sheriff.

At a time when many in the public are demanding police reforms in the wake of racial justice protests, she says she’ll work to rebuild trust by keeping her word “impeccably” and by being “equitable in the treatment of all people.”

"We have a chance to rethink and reimagine public safety in King County."

Adding that an emphasis on communication and collaboration amongst all staff will be key.

"There's an African proverb that says. 'If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together,' ” she said.

Cole-Tindall says she will not be applying for the permanent position. Instead she plans to spend the next six months stabilizing the workforce. She says staff are facing lots of morale issues — with a labor shortage, continuing uncertainty because of COVID and the change from working for an elected sheriff to an appointed one.

King County voters authorized the switch atop the county’s law enforcement department when they approved charter amendments last year to make their sheriff an appointed, rather than elected, position.

That change goes into effect in 2022, when the term of current Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, who was elected in 2017, ends.

“Patti has both the experience and the temperament to be able to lead her employees forward in a productive way,” Constantine said. “I am confident she will ensure a smooth transition and provide strong leadership for Sheriff’s Office employees and the public.”

He said the search for her successor is underway. Constantine says he hopes to make a job offer by March and for the next sheriff to take office around June.

At the same time, Constantine announced a proposal for a series of retention bonuses for existing and new sheriff's deputies to address an ongoing labor shortage. About 60 positions are vacant. The bonuses would range between $4,000 and $15,000 dollars and are subject to approval by the King County Council and the affected labor unions.

Updated: November 23, 2021 at 5:57 PM PST
Complete rewrite with quotes and details from news conference.
Adds information about hiring incentives.
Adds Bellamy Pailthorp byline.