(This story clarified at 12:54 pm, January 29, 2017, to reflect what less-lethal training King County Sheriff deputies have received and remarks made by the Director of Law Enforcement Oversight, Deborah Jacobs, regarding implicit-bias training.)
Soon, all King County patrol deputies will have gone through violence de-escalation training. The King County Sheriff’s Office says non-patrol officers will also be trained. It’s part of a broader initiative to promote anti-biased policing in the department.
There have been a number of high profile police-involved shootings in King County in the past year, including the killing of Tommy Le, a 20-year-old Burien man who deputies said had a knife and was lunging at them. The family sued after an autopsy showed he was shot in the back and had a pen, not a knife.
In September, the sheriff’s office began three-day training sessions that include sections on de-escalation as well as an online course about implicit bias.
Recently elected Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht told King County Council members Tuesday that, although the training started under her predecessor, John Urquhart, she wholeheartedly supports it.
“This is critical to the work we do. As you know, it is critical to making sure that we are getting ahead of the game as it relates to dealing with people in crisis and doing the right thing,” Johanknecht said.
The Sheriff’s Office, which presented its report on the training to the council's law and justice committee, says deputies have been trained in the use of tasers, but the King County Sheriff's Office is reviewing its policies on the use of less-lethal shotguns that fire bean bags before training officers in their use.
So far, the cost of the training has been about $900,000.
Deborah Jacobs, Director for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, told the King County Council she favors hiring an outside trainer to conduct classes in implicit bias, which research shows can be difficult to effectively address.
She says many of the implicit bias training programs she's reviewed from elsewhere are "too academic."