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Audit: King County Sheriff's Office isn't doing enough to keep its high-risk equipment secure

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A King County audit has concluded the sheriff's office is not doing enough to safeguard its sophisticated tools from being lost, stolen or falling into disrepair. These tools include firearms, bomb-detecting robots, night vision goggles and even helicopters.

The audit was presented to the King County Council Law and Justice Committee on June 11. Brooke Leary, who conducted the audit, told the council that inventory management of high-risk equipment in the sheriff's office lacks consistancy. 

Leary pointed out there is no single person overseeing it, which leads to inaccuracies. When things fall through the cracks, it puts at risk.

"For example, being unable to deploy because of maintenance issues, sending officers out without proper safety gear or losing dangerous itmes that could then be used in a crime," Leary said.

The audit makes a series of recommendations including hiring a full-time inventory control manager in the sheriff's office. Lack of staffing is cited as a reason for the gaps in equipment tracking. 

Leary said the King County Sheriff agreed with the recommendations. In King County's 2017-2018 budget, King County spent $2.8 million on law enforcement high-risk equipment.

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.