King County Executive to reveal choice for new interim sheriff this week

Nov 22, 2021, 1:00 PM | Updated: 2:57 pm
police oversight, king county sheriff, hate crime unit...
(Photo courtesy of the King County Sheriff's Office)
(Photo courtesy of the King County Sheriff's Office)

King County Executive Dow Constantine will be announcing his choice this week to serve as the county’s interim sheriff while a search for a full-time replacement kicks off.

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Constantine is expected to make the announcement as part of a Tuesday press conference starting at 10:30 a.m.

Previously, King County’s sheriff was an elected position decided by voters. A trio of charter amendments approved during 2020’s election changed that, giving the county executive the authority to appoint the role.

The other amendments made it so that the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight could subpoena witnesses and evidence to investigate misconduct, while giving the county council authority to specify the duties of the sheriff.

At the time, incumbent Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht had claimed the amendments would functionally “dismantle” her office, although others — including County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay — argued that they were crucial to creating a culture of accountability.

Johanknecht’s term is set to expire at the end of 2021. Starting on Jan. 1, 2022, Executive Constantine’s appointed interim sheriff will head up the department while a national search for a full-time candidate takes place.

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“We have an opportunity to rethink community safety — including policing — in King County, and we intend to seize this moment to create positive change,” Constantine said in a news release. “We will conduct an extensive search and interview process to guarantee that the voices of our many communities are heard and reflected in the next sheriff.”

The open position was posted in early November, and “will be shared nationally through various organizations and recruiting forums.” The county has also tagged leadership firm POLIHIRE to head up the recruitment process, which is expected to wrap up by the summer of 2022.

Once a candidate is chosen by Constantine, they will be subject to a confirmation vote from the county council.

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King County Executive to reveal choice for new interim sheriff this week