Prosecutor candidate: Policing alone will not solve crime
Oct 20, 2022, 6:04 PM
(Photo courtesy Leesa Manion for Prosecutor)
Leesa Manion, the current Chief of Staff at the King County Prosecutor’s office, is running for the top job.
“I will prosecute drug dealers because illegal behavior is not welcome in our communities on our streets and our neighborhoods,” Manion told KIRO Newsradio. “I will prosecute violent crime, sexual assault, and repeat property crimes because those crimes cannot go unpunished. And you can trust me to fight for more police resources and to include more social workers and mental health professionals because policing alone is not the solution.”
Manion: We need more police and resources to investigate crime
Speaking on The Gee and Ursula Show, Manion said, “I think we can all acknowledge that we don’t have enough police resources right now. And we need police to investigate crime. We need police to respond to 911 calls when people are afraid. And we also know that our police need help. They need social workers and mental health professionals working alongside them, because not every call requires a police officer with a gun and a badge.”
Manion said she will advocate for the police and the mental health workers who support them.
“They are deserving of fair compensation because we ask a lot of them,” Manion said. “The work is hard. And we also have to increase pay to attract talent to these really important fields.”
Federal Way mayor Jim Ferrell is Manion’s opponent
Manion is running against Federal Way mayor Jim Ferrell. Ferrell, also a career prosecutor, was interviewed on KIRO Newsradio on Tuesday.
One of the biggest issues the prosecutor’s office faced was the backlog of cases, built up during the pandemic. “The court has a backlog of 4,500 charged felony cases. And the reason that number is high is because prosecutors in my office were in the courthouse every day of the pandemic. We never stopped filing felony charges,” Manion said.
“At the same time, the Washington State Supreme Court issued an emergency order that closed all courts and halted our system’s ability to resolve cases,” she continued.
In 2021, $14 million was secured to specifically address the backlog.
“We have used some of that money to hire 125 new employees, including 10 new victim advocates, to ensure that a greater number of victims are receiving services while cases are pending,” Manion explained. “We are absolutely on target to eliminate this court backlog.”
A public safety summit is needed
Gee asked her what her priorities would be if she were elected.
“What I would do is I would convene a public safety summit,” Manion said. “I would invite the participation of all of our police departments and all of our local officials so that we can focus our resources on the same priorities. So that we have the type of collective impact, we want to move the dial on important public safety issues.”
Juvenile crime continues to be an issue in the county, but Manion believes the tide is changing.
“The police referrals for juvenile crime are at an all-time low. Over the past 20 years, law enforcement referrals for juvenile crime have dropped 90% and for violent crime 70%,” she outlined. “Young people have gone through programs working with social services. They get new tools for dealing with conflict that has gotten to the root cause of poor decision making.”
Manion has been Chief of Staff for 15 years
Manion said she is highly qualified and has the passion to become prosecutor.
“I want our streets to be free from crime. And I want King County to be a place where everyone has shelter and the services they need,” she said. “Accountability is at the core of public safety.”
Manion has served as the Chief of Staff for the past 15 years. “I oversee a workforce of 600 employees and an annual budget of $80 million, which jumps to $100 million in 2023. I’m the only candidate who’s worked with all 600 of our employees, all four of our divisions, and both of our labor unions.”
Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.