King County Sheriff: Charter amendment ‘scariest piece of legislation’ she’s seen

Oct 27, 2020, 5:27 AM | Updated: 5:56 pm

police reform, king county sheriff...

(King County Sheriff's Office)

(King County Sheriff's Office)

The future of policing in King County may depend a great deal on three related charter amendments on the ballot: amendments four, five, and six. Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss how these amendments would impact the ability for her and others to do their job, and why she believes amendment six is so dangerous.

Charter amendment five takes away the ability for the voter to directly vote for sheriff and gives that power to the King County Council, which Johanknecht believes reduces accountability to the public and clouds up decision making.

“Anybody in the community can get a hold of me directly; in this amendment, if you have an appointed sheriff, that doesn’t necessarily happen. And in fact, for decision making, you have to go through layers of executive oversight for that amendment,” she said.

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“And aside from having their own independently elected sheriff and that ability for me to jump in and get resources headed in a particular direction, one way or another, it brings partisanship into how the office is run,” she added. “I serve as a nonpartisan. Politics don’t come into play for me.”

Charter amendment number four would allow the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) to have subpoena authority, which Johanknecht opposes as well.

“The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight has an interim director, and we’re working with her very closely, but they don’t have investigative authority except into my 20 appointed positions and myself. And so I don’t believe they need a subpoena to get information from me that would come with public disclosure anyway, and I’m open to providing any support that they need along the way,” she said.

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“We’re very transparent, our labor unions are very transparent, and we’ve got nothing to hide,” Johanknecht added. “And when things go wrong, we work through it.”

Amendment six would ‘dismantle’ sheriff’s office

Charter amendment six alters the structure of duties in the department, seemingly providing more power in decision making to the King County Council.

“This is one of the scariest pieces of legislation I have seen in a long time, and I’m not trying to exclaim danger,” Johanknecht said. “This is directly an attempt to defund the sheriff’s office. I was told that, by one of the authors of the amendment, that this amendment did not go through the normal charter review process.”

“I think it’s a bait and switch, quite frankly, and it would allow the council and the executive to totally control and dismantle the sheriff’s office. That’s what the legislation is intended to do.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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King County Sheriff: Charter amendment ‘scariest piece of legislation’ she’s seen