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King County Council Discusses Reorganizing Sheriff’s Office

On July 21st, 2020, the King County Council discussed reorganizing the King County Sheriff’s Office. Voters will have the choice to change the sheriff from an elected position, currently held by Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht, to an appointed position.

Advocates for police reform claim that moving the sheriff to an appointed position will give the King County Council authority to change the sheriff, as well as broader authorities to reform the sheriff’s department. The King County Sheriff’s Office claims it will impact the independence of their body.

From their Facebook page:

Proposed Ordinance 2020-0231 seeks to circumvent state law (RCW Chapter 36.28 Sheriff’s Duties) by narrowing the Sheriff’s authority to whatever role the Council assigns, rather than the broad scope of authority provided by our state legislature.

Under 2020-0231, 9 members of the county council, and the County Executive, would control a Sheriff that you elect.

Proposed Ordinance 2020-0205 seeks to amend the County charter and revert to an appointed Sheriff. In 1996, King County voters spoke clearly when they voted to abandon an appointed Sheriff and make it an elected and independent office.

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