Union president reacts to criticism over King County Sheriff’s body cam policy

Nov 10, 2022, 6:54 PM | Updated: Nov 11, 2022, 10:10 am

body cam...

A new body cam hangs from the protective vest of a female police officer. (Photo by Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

(Photo by Jens Büttner/picture alliance via Getty Images)

King County reached a contract agreement with the union representing sheriff’s deputies Wednesday that includes the implementation of body-worn cameras, starting in 2023.

The deal also contains retroactive raises for hundreds of on-staff sheriff’s deputies and a 10% pay hike next year.

“It’s 6% in 2022, 10% in 2023, and 4% in 2024, for a total of 20% over three years,” said Mike Mansanarez, the President of the King County Police Officers Guild, on The Jason Rantz Show.

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This was Mansanarez’s third contract negotiation during his 24-year career within the department.

In a letter sent to the King County Council Wednesday, the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) wrote the current body-worn camera policy is “insufficient” despite supporting the general idea of body cams for police officers.

“Community, legal, and civil rights organizations have made it clear: investing millions of dollars into Body-Worn Cameras is only worth it if it is accompanied by strong policies and safeguards,” wrote OLEO Director Tamer Abouzeid in his letter. “At this point in time, we do not believe the policy is one that meets the standards set by our communities or best practices.”

“I don’t know what he’s referring to, I think it was a really good policy,” Mansanarez said in response to the letter. “I know part of the hang-up was not being able to review your video in an officer-involved shooting or a serious use of force [incident] causing hospitalization of a possible community member. We agreed to that. We both will give a statement, a brief statement, and then be able to watch the video and then provide a supplemental statement if it’s needed. I don’t know exactly what areas he’s talking about.”

OLEO also recommended tighter exceptions for when an officer is allowed to turn his body cam off, citing that the current infrastructure has too much flexibility for discretion.

“They also have to understand that if we go into someone’s house, and maybe it’s a death investigation, that we decide to turn it off because it doesn’t need to be on the camera,” Mansanarez said. “We’re not talking about maybe a homicide scene or something like that, just a natural death. We also have discretion with domestic violence. If we’re in front of a victim that doesn’t want to be recorded, they have that right to say, I don’t want to be recorded.”

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Mansanarez told Jason Rantz the pushback from OLEO surprised him, citing Abouzeid was not around or involved with the negotiations.

The body-cam program is estimated to cost $5 million, which was included by King County Executive Dow Constantine in his budget request earlier this year.

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Union president reacts to criticism over King County Sheriff’s body cam policy