Rantz: Seattle homeless camp, courthouse so dangerous that sheriff orders staff to work remotely

Aug 3, 2021, 11:31 AM | Updated: 2:39 pm
City Hall Park...
The homeless encampment at City Hall Park continues to deteriorate. (Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)
(Photo: Jason Rantz/KTTH)

The homeless encampment next to the King County Courthouse in Seattle is so dangerous that Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht is ordering most of her professional staff members to work 100% remotely.

Johanknecht cites the “unsafe environment around the courthouse, administration, parking garage, and corrections facilities,” along with labor union concerns, as contributing factors in her decision. The announcement was made in a Monday memo to office staff. The King County Sheriff’s Office is located in the courthouse in downtown Seattle.

The move comes days after a homeless man was charged after allegedly attempting to rape a seven-month pregnant woman in a county courthouse bathroom.

Next door, City Hall Park has become overrun with homeless people. It’s been the site of a stabbing homicide, a brutal kicking-death of a senior citizen’s dog, a recent fatal drug overdose, and frequent assaults. The City of Seattle refuses to sweep the encampment as community activists claim all sweeps are inhumane.

Rantz: Fights, drug use rampant as Seattle school encampment terrorizing area

The move back to 100% remote work

The decision by Johanknecht impacts staff members who do not regularly interact with the public.

“The safety and security of our employees is my top priority. Effectively immediately, due to the unsafe environment around the courthouse, administration, parking garage and corrections facilities, and concerns from labor unions, we are returning to 100% remote telework for professional staff members who do not routinely interact with the public,” Johanknecht wrote.

Any public-facing employees or other designated employees who will be required to continue to come into the office will be notified by their supervisors.

The sheriff says she’ll hold a digital meeting with the employees who will still come to the office so she can address their concerns directly.

Short- and long-term solutions on the horizon?

Like the 33 superior court judges who sent a letter to the City of Seattle demanding solutions to the clear danger posed by the encampment, Johanknecht says she intends to have more meetings with county leaders to discuss short and long term safety solutions for the courthouse and surrounded area.

“I am committed to doing all we can to make sure this [is] a safe workplace,” she explained.

Things have become so dire that even an influential Democrat on the King County Council is getting involved, with Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles reportedly offering a property swap with Seattle.

“If we were to own the park, then we can make use of it as we see fit, including for security,” Kohl-Welles told KOMO TV. “Maybe the best way to do that is engage in a trade of property so we would acquire City Hall Park and in the process be able to have the City of Seattle receive some property that we own.”

Only Republican members Reagan Dunn and Kathy Lambert have treated the issue with urgency until this point. Dunn recently called on local leaders to limit access to all county buildings in the downtown Seattle court complex to cut down on potential threats.

The message this sends

You cannot overstate the message this staffing decision sends.

It’s so dangerous in downtown Seattle in and around the courthouse, thanks to the out-of-control homelessness crisis and park that looks like a third-world country, that not even non-commissioned staff working for a law enforcement agency are safe. Staff at the courthouse and jurors, plaintiffs, and defendants are equally unsafe. And the city does nothing.

While Mayor Jenny Durkan’s office prefers sweeps, they’re hamstrung in large part by a lack of political leadership too scared to take on area activists, and a City Council who will not allow sweeps to occur. Thanks to ideologues like Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda, two councilmembers up for re-election, the homelessness crisis has worsened.

They continue to blame COVID and a lack of affordable housing for the crisis. That’s the excuse of incompetent leaders. Homeless people aren’t stabbing, fighting, attempting rape, and killing the dogs of seniors because of a pandemic or rent that’s too high. We know which approaches work. But they don’t happen to align with a stubborn and recalcitrant socialist and progressive council. People are dying and suffering as a result of the council’s inaction.

It used to be that I’d say on my afternoon radio show that it could take a murder or a rape to change things. I was clearly wrong. We’ve had a murder and an attempted rape already. Unfortunately, the city council remains disinterested in leading on this with solutions.

Did you like this opinion piece? Then listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  Instagram, and Parler, and like me on Facebook

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Rebecca Perry YT...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Democrat candidate’s vulgar campaign ad calls for mass property theft

A Democrat candidate for congress is calling for mass lawlessness to send a message to the “corporate elite.” Far-left activist Rebecca Parson’s newly released campaign ad calls for a federal minimum wage of $30 an hour, calling it the “bare minimum” to afford basics like housing, healthcare, and food. Until that becomes reality, Parson is […]
14 hours ago
Washington state Governor Jay Inslee speaks prior to U.S. President Joe Biden's appearance at Green...
MyNorthwest Staff

Gas shortages and record high prices plague Washington drivers

Gas stations in Washington are resetting their price boards to accommodate double digits in preparation for fuel prices potentially reaching $10 a gallon.
2 days ago
Ferguson, booster...
KTTH staff

AG Ferguson seeks protection for out-of-state abortion providers

Washington AG Bob Ferguson sent a letter asking to not disqualify out-of-state abortion providers from obtaining a license to practice medicine if they're penalized if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
3 days ago
Car Shot Seattle...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Man nearly murdered in random Seattle drive-by while celebrating job promotion

My 25-year-old coworker had just finished hitting a bucket of golf balls at a North Seattle golf range. Moments later, his elation turned to terror as a man tried to murder him.
5 days ago
Bellingham Sex Shop...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: School Board director hosts ‘Queer Youth Open Mic’ at sex shop

Unless Jenn Mason clears out the store, those children will be near sex toys, graphic books, and lingerie, with a curtained doorway keeping them away.
6 days ago
King County Courthouse from City Hall (flickr creative commons)...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle judge slapped in the face, but refused to report assault to police

The unidentified suspect allegedly slapped a King County Superior Court Judge in the face, but the judge didn't want to be identified as a victim.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles


Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
Rantz: Seattle homeless camp, courthouse so dangerous that sheriff orders staff to work remotely