Fighting Crime With Bureaucracy


A little more than a year ago, a panel assembled to give guidance to the struggling King County Sheriff?s Office. They created a list of 36 actions they believed the department needed to take to get back on track, attributing problems in the department, largely questionable officer conduct, to unclear expectations and poor leadership.

Last month, Sheriff Sue Rahr?s staff gave a spreadsheet to the King County Council detailing the action they had taken, or not taken, on each of those steps. According to the spreadsheet, they have spent about $240,000 on hiring additional sergeants for oversight and staff to support internal investigations. As well, a complaint form has been added to the website and a memo stating poor performance was circulated. Additional changes, like a clear system for conduct accountability, are expected to reach costs of more than $2.1 million. But that?s been delayed while the officers? contract is negotiated with the King County Police Guild, says Sheriff?s office spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart.

This week, the council created their own report, which pretty much parrots the Sheriff?s report. But it also includes a 2006 analysis by the King County Auditor?s office on conduct and use of force complaints. They found that while overall complaints had declined and were lower than similar agencies nationwide, the use of force complaints were about the same. Liz DuBois, Principal Management Auditor, says her office has not begun a more recent analysis due to an unfair labor practices complaint filed by the guild about one year ago. ?So a lot of the work that we were planning for this year is on hold,? she says.

So now the public can weigh in on how the office is doing beginning with a series of meetings tonight and lasting through the end of the year. The first begins at 6 p.m. in the Seattle City Council chambers and will be devoted to presenting the reports. The next one, when the public will be allowed to weigh in, should occur Nov. 14.

Panel chair Randy Revelle, Vice President of the Washington State Hospital Association and a former King County Executive, says he expects to have a report on how the panel that created the recommendations feels about the Sheriff?s progress by Jan. 2008.

A report on the impact of creating and delivering reports has not been scheduled at this time.

comments powered by Disqus