Executive Constantine appoints Patti Cole-Tindall to serve as King County’s interim sheriff

Nov 23, 2021, 10:55 AM
King County interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall...
Patti Cole-Tindall speaks after her appointment to serve as King County's interim sheriff. (Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)
(Hanna Scott, KIRO Radio)

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced his choice for the county’s new interim sheriff on Tuesday, appointing Undersheriff Patti Cole-Tindall to fill the position starting on Jan. 1, 2022.

With position no longer up to voters, King County begins search for new sheriff

Cole-Tindall will become the first person of color to ever serve as King County sheriff, having previously joined the department in 2015 as the chief of technical services. She was appointed to serve as undersheriff in 2020. According to the county, that role had her overseeing “the development and implementation of the KCSO strategic plan and the examination and strengthening of the KCSO complaint and use of force review processes.”

“Patti’s background and experience in the sheriff’s office and across county government — working with labor, serving her community, and demonstrating integrity and transparency — make her uniquely qualified to step into this interim role,” Constantine said on Tuesday. “She embodies the key qualities we’re looking for as we begin to rethink community safety, hire the next generation of officers and search for a newly appointed sheriff.”

Speaking on Tuesday following Constantine’s announcement, Cole-Tindall expressed her goal to “ensure a smooth transition.”

“I am honored to serve as the interim sheriff, and will be working closely with my management teams to support and lead the people of the KCSO until the new sheriff is appointed,” she said.

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.

King County Sheriff refuses to resign despite councilmember’s demand

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 expires at the end of 2021. Cole-Tindall will serve as sheriff while the county conducts a nationwide search for a full-time replacement.

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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Executive Constantine appoints Patti Cole-Tindall to serve as King County’s interim sheriff