King County Sheriff Sue Rahr announced Wednesday that she will officially resign her post effective March 31 and has accepted a leadership position at the state's police academy, according to a press release.
Rahr will begin her new role as director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) on April 1. King County Chief Deputy Steve Strachan will take over on an interim basis until a replacement is appointed by King County Council sometime this spring. A voter-elected position, Rahr still had just under two years left to serve in her term.
Recent news reports suggest former KCSO spokesman and Mercer Island resident John Urquhart may be among the candidates the county council could tap to fill the position.
The following is an unedited statement by King County Sheriff Sue Rahr:
"Today, I have accepted a final offer from the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (WSCJTC) to become the Director. I plan to retire as Sheriff on March 31 and assume my new duties as Director of the academy on April 1.
I made the decision to leave the Sheriff’s Office before the end of my term for a number of reasons. First, and foremost, I have complete confidence in Chief Deputy Steve Strachan and the rest of the command staff to effectively lead the Sheriff’s Office and continue to protect and serve the citizens of King County. I would not and could not leave this post without that confidence. I believe this transition can be smooth with no impact on our service and no disruption of our workforce.
Second, the chance to lead the WSCJTC was a rare and unexpected opportunity. I have gained valuable knowledge and experience in my 32 continuous years in law enforcement. I have learned a great deal about the heart and spirit of service, compassion, fairness, and leadership in my role as Sheriff. These years of experience have prepared me to continue to serve both the citizens of Washington State—and my brothers and sisters in law enforcement. Participating over the years in a number of national forums and workgroups related to police training and accountability have provided me with a solid foundation to help direct our state’s efforts to improve the skills, effectiveness, and safety of our police officers and improve public trust. I am very excited for the opportunity to contribute what I can to 21st century policing.
I have designated Chief Deputy Strachan as the Interim Sheriff upon my resignation. He will remain in that status until the County Council meets and takes action to either confirm him as Interim Sheriff or name someone else. I have met with each Councilmember and expressed my strong support for Chief Deputy Strachan to take the helm of this large, complex organization. He has been the Chief Deputy since January of 2011 and is well versed in the operation and current issues facing the Sheriff’s Office.
It is not an easy decision to step away from the uniform, badge, and people who have been such an important part of my life for the past 32 years. It has been my honor to serve the citizens of King County as Sheriff and to work with the extraordinarily talented and dedicated law enforcement professionals in the Sheriff’s Office and throughout King County and Washington State. My seven years as Sheriff have been filled with many challenges as well as personal rewards and accomplishments. We have weathered the most extensive budget cuts in the history of the Sheriff’s Office while attaining National Accreditation. We have refined and improved our contract policing program and it is now considered one of the most progressive in the nation. Most importantly, we have effectively served and protected the citizens of King County. I’m very proud of the men and women I’ve served with and will forever be in their debt.
WSCJTC trains all law enforcement officers in the state of Washington, except the State Patrol. In additional to training new law enforcement officers, WSCJTC trains local corrections officers, 9-1-1 operators, and provides a wide variety of in-service classes for law enforcement veterans, supervisors, managers, and other criminal justice professionals. (Please see their website for details). Sheriff Rahr successfully cultivated a $400,000 Department of Justice COPS Office grant for the KCSO, SPD, and WSCJTC to develop a new training strategy and national model under the title “Justice Based Policing.”