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Trenary loses to Fortney in Snohomish County Sheriff race

Sgt. Adam Fortney (left) and Sheriff Ty Trenary (right).

Sergeant Adam Fortney is the next Snohomish County Sheriff (56% of the vote), beating out the incumbent, sheriff Ty Trenary.

Trenary reportedly conceded the race Tuesday night. Fortney spoke with KTTH’s Jason Rantz on Wednesday:

Fortney, who has spent 23 years in the sheriff’s office, told Rantz last week that he strongly opposes the county’s current approach, claiming that law enforcement officers aren’t really able to do their jobs.

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Sergeant Fortney says the biggest difference between himself and his opponent is that he wants to return to an environment in Snohomish County in which cops feel supported in doing their jobs.

“What the Sheriff can control overnight is policies and procedures within the sheriff’s office: Are they supportive or are they not supportive of what I call proactive police work?” he said. “You don’t want a bunch of cops running around worrying about getting in trouble if they chase a certain collar.”

Fortney told KIRO Radio last week that he’s worried about what will happen to him and supporters if his boss, Trenary, wins the election.

After two of Fortney’s vocal supporters at the department were fired, the sergeant took to social media, calling for an independent investigation into those firings, a third who was fired last month, and a current internal investigation into him claiming all three were politically motivated retaliation.

One of the firings involved a deputy who violated a pursuit policy during a chase that ended with him shooting and killing the driver.

Trenary reluctantly released details of the other two firings on Friday, pointing to internal investigations that show the pair conducted an illegal search that wrongfully sent someone to prison – and then lied about it. Trenary welcomed any independent investigation calling the facts of the cases indisputable.

There’s no word on whether there will be an investigation into Fortney’s claims. For now, Trenary prefers to focus on the issues and the work he’s done as sheriff the past six years.

It’s that work that Fortney says prompted him to run against his boss in the first place.

Fortney says the policy of turning low-level offenders who are high away from the jail frustrates officers and the community, and only emboldens criminals.

Trenary is well-known for saying you can’t arrest your way out of the opioid or drug crisis, and has led with that philosophy. He’s helped create the deputy-social worker outreach teams, transforming the county campus into a one-stop shop for treatment, detox, and wrap-around services. The campus has become one of first large jails in the nation to offer medication assisted treatment for opioid addiction in a pilot program that just expanded to all inmates.

“It’s a big deal in this election cycle. People will say, ‘I just want you to arrest people,’ Trenary said. “We can do that, but the problem is only going to get worse. And if you don’t believe me, that’s all we did from 2008 to 2015 and it didn’t work. We actually see results by doing this. So shouldn’t we be responsible and do what works?”

Trenary said that the crime rate is down across the county. He rejects any suggestion that he’s taking a soft approach to crime, pointing to the nearly 30,000 jail bookings a year the department has and stands by his disciplinary decisions.

As for his goals if he’s elected to another four years?

“We need to expand the ability for us to provide services,” Trenary said. “We need to sit down with some of these folks who have been so upset about what they perceive is a lack of accountability. It’s not about a lack of accountability. It’s about what’s the permanent solution. I think community court is a good path there because then you can get some of those folks who really want to see change involved in change.”

Trenary said he looks forward to looking back in four years and seeing the thousands of people who’ve turned the corner and who are living a healthy lifestyle.

KIRO Radio’s Hanna Scott contributed to this report.

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