King County Sheriff | KNKX

King County Sheriff

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King County will no longer be electing its sheriff. Voters approved a charter amendment that directs the county to appoint its top law enforcement officer. The County Council is planning how to go about making the change.

Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best, center, speaks as Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, left, and Deputy Police Chief Adrian Diaz, right, look on during a news conference, Tuesday, Aug. 11, 2020, in Seattle.
Ted S. Warren / The Associated Press

Four of the region’s largest police agencies will see big changes in the near future.


Criminal street gangs in King County are starting to recruit younger members. That's one of the trends the Sheriff's Office says it's seeing. During a briefing, a gang detective told the King County Council that there are now 116 active street gangs operating in the county with 15,000 members.

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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.

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The American Civil Liberties Union says a proposed new data collection system in the King County Sheriff’s Office could cause people to be unfairly tracked by law enforcement. The ACLU says the county needs to be more transparent on exactly what the Mark43 records management system would do.

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Seattle area residents and family members of Tommy Le demanded answers from King County officials during a public forum about his fatal shooting by a deputy in June.

King County Sheriff John Urquhart, County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg and County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight Director Deborah Jacobs were among those who attended the forum Wednesday evening at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service in Seattle.

King County Sheriff's Department

Who speaks for the murder victim when there’s no family left to tell their story?  That's a question the Washington state legislature is considering.

A bill in the legislature, Senate Bill 6099, would make it possible for law enforcement officers to be appointed to speak on behalf of deceased victims.

The impetus is a 38 year old murder case and a  Washington Supreme Court ruling that came down in 2010.

Peace Corps

The King County sheriff wants to make his police force more culturally aware. So he’s come up with a plan that includes putting former Peace Corps volunteers on the payroll.

Sheriff John Urquhart says the force is “becoming more male and more white every single year," and that's a problem because the force should better reflect the increasingly diverse community.

"And that means we need all colors, we need all races, we need all genders, and we need LGBT, you name it,” Urquhart said.

In King County, both men vying to be sheriff say they'll reform a department found to do a poor job of investigating police misconduct complaints.

But neither Steve Strachan nor John Urquhart are what you'd call outside reformers. 

(To hear the entire story, click the Listen button above.)

Kyle Fox / KNKX

The King County Sheriff’s Department does a poor job of investigating police misconduct complaints. That’s the conclusion of an outside audit of the department. This comes five years after the county pledged to implement improvements in the troubled law enforcement agency.

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Is a community at risk when cops don’t get enough sleep? Washington State University researcher Bryan Vila says it is. In a briefing before the King County Council, he said there are hazards associated with overworked officers.

He says lack of sleep affects your ability to think clearly and problem solve and do other things law enforcement needs to be skilled at, such as:

Officials in King County say the adoption of a more advanced Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) a year ago has led to additional crimes being solved.

The regional AFIS is paid for through a property tax levy.  It costs the average homeowner in King County about $20 a year.

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Police in Seattle and King County will soon be trained in the importance of talking.  They’ll learn to treat people with respect as a way of diffusing tense situations.  Law enforcement officials hope the new approach helps build trust with the community.

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King County has agreed to pay $10 million to a man who suffered a catastrophic brain injury when a sheriff's deputy slammed him into a concrete wall after a chase in Seattle.

Christopher Harris ran from deputies who mistook him for a suspect in a fight on in May 2009. After a couple of blocks, Harris stopped, and a deputy knocked him 8 feet into a concrete wall, head first.

Harris eventually emerged from a coma but can't walk or talk. The 30-year-old is expected to need round-the-clock care for the rest of his life.

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A jury trial has begun in Tacoma, detailing another case of alleged police brutality in Seattle.

The lawsuit was filed against King County by the wife and a court-appointed guardian of 31-year-old Christopher Sean Harris, who a deputy shoved against a concrete wall a year and a half ago outside the Cinerama movie theater in Belltown. A surveillance camera outside the movie theater captured footage of the incident.

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King County deputies' pay-cut plan rejected, a car injures pedestrians at the Pike Place Market, the fight over proposed ferry service cuts heats up, and a popular Seattle language school closes.

Exec Says King County Deputies' Pay Plan Won't Fly

Dow Constantine says a union-offered plan to save taxpayers money would actually cost them more. 

As King County makes massive cuts to help balance its budget, the union representing King County sheriff’s deputies has, for months, refused to consider a wage freeze next year.  Even as other unions in the county have agreed to do so.  But deputies are voting on a proposal to reduce their upcoming pay increase. 

AP

King County To Cut 300 Jobs

The budget ax falls today in King County.  The coucil will vote on a plan that eliminates  about 300 jobs, including dozens from law enforcement and the prosector's office.