King County deputy tells Dori he quit over morale, ‘Mitzing-in-action’ sheriff

Sep 29, 2021, 12:07 PM | Updated: Sep 30, 2021, 6:46 am
king county...
King County Sheriff's Office Deputy Jessy Bailey had a message about department morale that he posted to TikTok. (Screengrab)

King County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Jessy Bailey told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show that he’s announced his resignation over his claim of deteriorating morale within the department. He directed his attention toward King County Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht as representative of the disconnect between rank and file police and command.

“Mitzi G. Johanknecht has absolutely has no idea what has been going on with the morale of the department,” Bailey said.

Specifically, he claims that, not only is the sheriff aware of this issue, but is not interested in explicating the problem and finding practical solutions.

“When I was downtown, I mentioned to a senior staff member, ‘we should do a command climate survey of what’s going on with the troops because it’s affecting me in recruitment,’” Bailey explained.

“When they ask the deputy, ‘hey, how would you like to work at the county sheriff’s office,’ they go, ‘well it’s kind of bad here right now,’” he continued. “The answer I got from the said senior person was the sheriff doesn’t actually want to know the answer to that — the truth, wow.”

While this transpired years ago, Bailey mentioned it within the context of vaccine mandates for federal employees as the most recent example of abrasive and heavy-handed communication within the department.

“But now with this mandate for the shot, … for the actual people that are going to calls and doing all the things we do, … morale is lower than anything I’ve ever seen in 30 years of service, and the sheriff has no idea,” Bailey noted.

“Instead, she’s sending threatening emails out,” he continued. “This was my dream job, even after the whole time I was in the Army. All I ever thought about being a cop, it was my dream. And it’s slowly, … from Ferguson forward, just started to turn into a nightmare.”

@echopnwEven though I am fully Vaccinated, I will stand with my Blue Families right to choose!! #copsoftiktok #cops #kcso #righttochoose #forever10/7♬ original sound – Dani Marie

He provided some context for how negative public perception of police has slowly degraded the department’s morale.

“Hating me because I chose a profession started to hurt them when it started to feel like society was looking at it that way,” he said. “Yeah, that hurts. It hurts.”

He gave an example of how a small child accusing him of murder was a breaking point.

“One of the things that hurt me really hard, I was once walking walking by … a kid. He [said], ‘mommy, I want a sticker from that cop.’ She goes, ‘do you really?’ He goes, ‘nah, they kill people,’ and just kept walking. It still hurts,” Bailey recounted.

Bailey gave some insight into day to day communication within the sheriff’s office.

“They’re afraid of [Johanknecht], and they’re afraid to talk to her because if you catch her in a bad day, she’s gonna get you,” Bailey recalled. “Other people will be like, ‘oh my God, I went against the sheriff, and look what happened.’”

The vaccine mandate was a breaking point for Bailey as the most recent example of dictates which, in his opinion, are not communicated well.

“The email that she sent out that was very threatening,” Bailey said. “It was a very ‘get the shot, or get out.’ Here’s my thing, and I might know a thing about leadership. Why couldn’t [she] say, ‘hey, I’m sorry guys. I’m sorry that you have to get this shot. I’m sorry. There’s been mandates by Dow Constantine and everybody else. My door is open for you for the ones that want to talk.’”

He addressed a question about the number of law enforcement officers who might resign over the mandate in a similar fashion as Bailey. While he declined to give specific numbers, he is of the opinion that any cops who resign over the mandate are indicative of a larger trend of talent depletion from the department, and the mandate is simply the most recent predicate for resignation.

“They need us, the cops, more than we need them because we are not easy to replace. The good ones are walking away,” Bailey noted. “There’s some really good ones walking away on October 19, I promise you that. And they’re not easy to replace, and we don’t want cops to be easier to replace.”

King County is reporting a steady decline in positive COVID cases leading up to the Oct. 18 deadline for federal employees to receive a complete COVID-19 vaccine. As of Sept. 25, the seven day average of positive cases was 470, down from a spike of 603 at the start of September.

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

Dori Monson on KIRO Radio 97.3 FM
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King County deputy tells Dori he quit over morale, ‘Mitzing-in-action’ sheriff