Metropolitan King County Council members Bob Ferguson and Julia Patterson called for reforms this week to increase accountability of the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) following a briefing on a new, independent risk assessment presented by King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), according to a county news release.
The report examined use of force policies and employee misconduct oversight in the Sheriff’s Office, and makes 25 recommendations for reforms.
“While the vast majority of our deputies serve with honor and distinction, we must be accountable to the public and make sure allegations of misconduct and uses of force are investigated thoroughly and objectively,” said Ferguson. “This report raises important concerns about accountability and is clear evidence of the importance of having civilian oversight of the Sheriff’s Office.”
The report comes on the heels of a July 24 audit report that revealed several deficiencies in the way the KCSO initiates internal investigations and handles complaints, among other issues.
KCSO Sheriff Steve Strachan agreed with the many of the recommendations and noted that many of the issues have already been identified and changes were in process.
“(The KCSO) welcomed the feedback and has learned from this audit,” Strachan said. “The report confirms that we are paying attention to the right things, we are making progress, and we have more work to do as we take our department to the next level.”
Ferguson and Patterson have introduced legislation to ensure accountability reforms in the Sheriff’s Office. The legislation would adopt a Performance Audit Action Plan that includes deliverables and timetables for implementing recommendations of an earlier audit of the Sheriff’s Office. As part of their call for reforms, Ferguson and Patterson said they plan to include recommendations from today’s report in the final version of their legislation, which is anticipated to be before the full Council for possible consideration on Monday, Sept. 17.
The report makes 25 recommendations related to:
• Changing use of force policies;
• Creating a new Use of Force Review Board;
• Changes to the membership and practices of internal review boards;
• New policies, procedures, and practices for investigating misconduct and deputy-involved shootings;
• Emphasizing alternatives to lethal uses of force; and
• Concurrent criminal and administrative investigations of serious uses of force incidents.