Dori Exclusive: Post-acquittal, Sheriff Troyer talks politics, Seattle ‘mess,’ and re-election plans

Dec 16, 2022, 6:48 PM | Updated: Dec 21, 2022, 2:22 pm

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer...

(KIRO 7)

(KIRO 7)

Despite his 37 years in law enforcement, Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer says it wasn’t until he decided to run for election two years ago that he started feeling the squeeze of politics on himself – and his office.

Two days after a Pierce County jury unanimously found Troyer not guilty of two misdemeanors involving false reporting, Pierce County’s top cop talked to Friday’s Dori Monson Show about the ordeal, programs he wants to expand – and whether he would run for reelection.

“As soon as I stuck my first election sign in the ground, I started getting threats,” Troyer told Dori’s listeners. “It’s a strange experience, but one that I’m built for.”

Prior to being sheriff, much of Troyer’s 37-year law enforcement career was as a public information officer for the sheriff’s department. In that role, he was involved in supporting at-risk kids with holiday gifts and families of officers who died in the line of duty.

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But as many city and county governments around Washington started pushing for police chiefs and sheriffs to be appointed by leaders – and not elected by voters – Troyer said he found himself at odds with long-time elected officials, including Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Dealing with partisan politics was his weakness, he told Dori.

“It doesn’t matter how much goodwill you have; they will come after you because you don’t agree with what they say,” Troyer said.

His move to hire 60 people from different law enforcement agencies from around the state – regardless of their COVID vaccination status – made some statewide officials “a little cranky . . . I’ve heard many times that there are people in state government who aren’t happy that we’re doing that.”

Advocating to keep the sheriff’s position elected – and not appointed – has also earned him some pushback, he said.

“There are a lot of great (appointed) police chiefs, and they have to be careful with what they say because they can lose their jobs,” Troyer said. “That’s not the case with elected sheriffs.

“Even if it’s not me – whoever it is – you want to be able to elect your sheriff,” Troyer added.

“I certainly don’t want Pierce County to turn into Seattle,” where the county executive chooses the sheriff and the mayor selects the police chief, he continued. “During my election, I said, ‘don’t King County our Pierce.’ There is no way I’m going to let Pierce County turn into the mess that is up in Seattle.”

Publicity surrounding the accusations connected to the November 2021 middle-of-the-night incident with a newspaper deliveryman has overshadowed “concrete” “really good programs” grown or expanded in the past two years, he continued.

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Troyer praised his department’s Co-Respond program, which embeds mental health experts with sheriff deputies. What started with three of these specialists is now budgeted for nine, he added. In their work, these teams have handled responses involving cases involving deadly weapons and suicide threats.

Similarly, the Alternative Response team has embedded deputies with social workers who handle calls involving homeless drug addicts and cases involving mental health crises.

Troyer also pointed to the department’s Health and Wellness Office, which supports officers experiencing depression or “feeling lack of support from the community.”

He told Dori’s listeners that he’s “proud that we hired 60 people when other departments are down,” adding that it’s important to “retain good employees.”

Finally, Dori wanted to know: Is Troyer going to run for re-election in two years after his four-year term is over?

When first elected, Troyer answered, “it was really clear … one term to try and get done what I could.”

Disruptions from the trial, however, have made Troyer reconsider.

“I haven’t made that decision yet, but I’ve started to take a look,” he said. “I’m only 61 and I have a few more good years left in me … I’ve got a great staff and a great crew and I think we’ll be able to take care of business as long as we need to.”

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 Exclusive: Post-acquittal, Sheriff Troyer talks politics, Seattle ‘mess,’ and re-election plans