Dori: Sheriffs’ group calls crime-soft candidates claiming to be pro-police ‘chameleons’

Nov 1, 2022, 4:58 PM
From left, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett; Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way)...
From left, Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett; Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way)
(D-Federal Way)

Calling one state lawmaker’s criticism “slanderous” and other soft-on-crime candidates “chameleons,” a coalition of sheriffs from both sides of Washington’s Cascades held a Tuesday press conference to call out what they called “many disingenuous” claims coming right before next week’s election.

Theirs was a move, the five sheriffs said, fueled by a rise in crime statewide and pre-election campaign materials from candidates claiming to be “pro-police” when they are actually “spreading false information on where they stand on law enforcement issues” Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett told Tuesday’s Dori Monson Show listeners.

The flame was lit several weeks ago when outgoing Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way) claimed law enforcement officers in Washington state dislike two of the bills he sponsored and turned into law because police [want to] “go around killing people.”

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Calling the accusation “slanderous,” Burnett said his coalition wants to “set the record straight: ‘we are out to save lives, not kill people.’ ”

Burnett was joined by sheriffs Bill Elfo (Whatcom County); Ozzie Knezovich (Spokane County); John Snaza (Thurston County); and Rob Snaza (Lewis County) at Tuesday’s press conference – but also told Dori, “I can tell you this: the majority of the sheriffs, whether they’re emboldened to speak out enough,” agree with their group.

With Johnson’s words still burning among voters, Burnett said, the sheriff’s group grew increasingly frustrated with “chameleon” candidates who touted their “pro-police” stand in campaign ads. “If law enforcement truly is of the utmost importance to you, then show us in something that a week or two before ballots are dropping,” Burnett told Dori.

“Democrats in the majority in both the state House of Representatives and Senate stood strongly against law enforcement with their rhetoric and voting power, especially on House Bills 1310 and 1054”  – two Johnson-sponsored bills that passed along party lines with the final signature from Gov. Jay Inslee, the sheriffs’ coalition said.

“Despite this, Washingtonians are receiving many disingenuous mailing pieces and statements from the legislators themselves that directly and falsely state they are pro-police and stand with law enforcement,” the coalition pressed. “This could not be further from the truth, and it has become necessary for us to remind the public what is happening with crime across the state and why it has gotten so bad.”

While the press conference and release did not list lawmakers other than Johnson by name, Dori questioned campaigns run by 8th District U.S. Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Issaquah) and Sen. Patty Murray (D).

Schrier mailers show her standing alongside Auburn police chief Adam Easterbrook. He has since denounced the Democratic Super PAC to stop using this picture.

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Burnett said his group was also frustrated with incumbent Sen. Patty Murray, who told a recent voter forum that she was part of a police force ride-along.

Murray needed to “catch a ride-along on the airplane to the southern border to Mexico” to stop the influx of fentanyl pouring into the U.S. and north to Washington state, Burnett said. When his group tried to meet with Murray, he told Dori, “she didn’t have the time to meet with us.”

After all the ballots are counted, Burnett added, the next step comes in January.

“Put your money where your mouth is. Prove it when you’re in the trenches,” Burnett said. “Let’s do some things that protect lives and our quality of life.”

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

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Dori: Sheriffs’ group calls crime-soft candidates claiming to be pro-police ‘chameleons’