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King County Council appoints new law enforcement oversight director

File photo of OLEO representatives presenting a report at King County Council. (Photo courtesy of OLEO/Facebook)

The King County Council has appointed Tamer Abouzeid to serve as the new director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO).

Abouzeid was selected by the council Tuesday for the lead position at OLEO. He will officially take over the position on Sept. 20, 2021.

The two finalists for the position took questions from the community earlier in July after a months-long search for a new director.

The OLEO’s previous director, Deborah Jacobs, was removed from her position last September following allegations that she had fostered a “toxic” work environment. In a subsequent investigation, she stood accused of saying only a white man could do certain jobs at OLEO, excluding transgender women from a party, and telling a Black employee that a Black-owned business was “ghetto.”

That saw King County councilmembers vote to not extend her contract by a 5-4 margin, and begin a national search for her replacement.

OLEO was first created in 2011 as a civilian oversight group to strengthen the county’s police accountability infrastructure. In 2015, it was given the authority to investigate claims of misconduct against local law enforcement agencies and officers. Most recently, a late-2020 report discovered several “problematic gaps” in an investigation from the King County Sheriff’s Office into the 2017 death of 20-year-old Tommy Le.

Abouzeid is currently an attorney at the Chicago office of a large civil rights organizations, focusing on issues of discrimination and policing. He also acts as legal counsel to the Chicago Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression. Previously, Abouzeid worked at Chicago’s Civilian Office of Police Accountability investigating allegations of misconduct against Chicago police officers.

“The challenge before our Office of Law Enforcement is steep: build a trusting relationship with and among the diverse communities we serve and our Sheriff’s Office so that we can provide true public safety to all. This will take perseverance, listening, and a focus on common interests so that we provide equitable, fair and effective policing in King County. Tamer Abouzeid brings the combination of experience and drive needed to rise to these challenges. I am delighted to welcome him as our incoming Director of OLEO, said Council Chair Claudia Balducci in a written statement.

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