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King County sheriff candidate calls out leadership for ‘mismanagement’

Mitzi Johanknecht is challenging King County Sheriff John Urquhart in the 2017 election. (Courtesy of Mitzi for Sheriff)
LISTEN: Mitzi Johanknecht talks King County Sheriff issues

King County Sheriff John Urquhart’s opponent in the upcoming election says she’s seen “mismanagement” in the department for years.

“I’ve watched, over the last five years, mismanagement,” Mitzi Johanknecht told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “People inside and outside the department came to me and asked me to run. I’m honored by their trust and support.”

RELATED: Sheriff Urquhart responds to flip-flop allegations

Johanknecht has spent 32 years working in the sheriff’s office; 20 of those years have been spent in management and command positions.

She is promoting two main issues: restoring dignity and respect to the sheriff’s office; focusing on public safety with a strategic plan that she says the office does not have.

But Dori’s concerns for the sheriff’s office are a bit different. He’s asked Urquhart about them as well: safe injection sites and illegal immigration.

Safe Injection Sites

I don’t support heroin injection sites. I do support making sure we do everything we can to save lives of those struggling with addiction and support treatment. We need to make sure that all of our deputies, not just 40 of them, are equipped with naloxone so we can save lives.

I don’t believe we fully understand the complexity of putting these sites in our communities. I’ve talked with some of the victims of human trafficking who are telling us that these sites may be a recruiting ground for others to fall victim to human trafficking. We can’t continue to jeopardize vulnerable groups going into these sites and coming out high. That’s just a small sampling of the why-nots. We just don’t know enough about how this would play out, and what we would tell our deputies – how we enforce or not enforce. It becomes very difficult.

Illegal Immigration

Johanknecht favors the sheriff’s policy of not dealing with immigration status. She notes that through the process of arresting people, the federal government knows who is in custody. She said that in her 32 years on the force, she has never had to call Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

I think that even with a little flip-flopping, (Urquhart and I) come down somewhat in the same area. We have a great 30-year policy that has been in place that speaks to us not asking people’s immigration status.

It’s ended up working. We don’t look at people’s immigration status when we are out doing the work of a police department. We go out and investigate crime, arrest people, and do all those things without the need for immigration status.

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