Pierce County: Sheriff Ed Troyer is not running for reelection

Mar 19, 2024, 8:16 PM | Updated: 8:17 pm

Troyer Sheriff...

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer. (Photo courtesy KIRO 7 News)

(Photo courtesy KIRO 7 News)

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer will not seek reelection, the department confirmed.

Troyer — a 39-year veteran with the sheriff’s department — was elected as sheriff in November 2020, replacing Paul Pastor. He was awarded a Medal of Merit five times in his career, a Lifesaving Award, two patrol Impact Awards and an Excellence in Traffic Safety Award.

“It was the hardest decision I’ve ever had to make. But when my term ends, I’ll have 40 years on,” Troyer told The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “Now to 800 people, I’ll be the second most tenured person in the department.”

Troyer went on to say he wants to go through some other things.

“I’ll be turning 62 a few months later, when my term comes to an end I’ll have 40 years on, and I really want to go work in the nonprofit and foundation business,” Troyer said. “I have spent more time doing that. And I’m not going anywhere. I’m not leaving. I’m not leaving angry. I’m leaving for what I think and my family thinks is the right time.”

State of Washington vs. Ed Troyer

But Troyer’s tenure as Pierce County Sheriff was embroiled in controversy. In January 2021, Troyer called an emergency dispatcher in the middle of the night after an unidentified vehicle was spotted driving in his neighborhood in Tacoma. When Troyer left his home to investigate, he called emergency dispatchers.

The state of Washington filed charges against him later that year, claiming he had misleadingly told responding officers and dispatchers the Black newspaper delivery driver who was operating the unidentified vehicle, Sedrick Altheimer, had threatened him.

Dori Monson exclusive interview with Ed Troyer: Governor, AG were “coming after me”

In 2022, he was acquitted on charges of filing a false report over the interaction.

“They offered me a deal. They wanted me to plead guilty to both counts and resign,” Troyer said on KIRO Newsradio about the case waged against him by the state.

“I said ‘No way.’ I wanted to talk to a jury. I put my hands in the fate of the jury,” Troyer continued. “Once they heard the facts and got all the information, we got the verdict that we were going for even though the attorney general, the governor – the most powerful people in the state were coming after me.”

Altheimer filed a $5 million civil lawsuit claiming Troyer only called for help in — bringing dozens of officers into the neighborhood — because Altheimer is Black.

During the incident, which occurred on Jan. 27, 2021, Troyer described Altheimer to the dispatcher as “homeless-looking,” saying on three separate occasions the newspaper carrier had “threatened to kill” him.

The county and Troyer agreed to pay Altheimer $500,000 to settle the lawsuit. But the settlement did not include an admission of wrongdoing by the county or Troyer.

Candidates to replace the current sheriff

Current Pierce County Chief of the Corrections Bureau Patti Jackson announced her candidacy for Pierce County Sheriff, with both Troyer and Pastor supporting her.

“I have known Chief Patti Jackson for over 20 years, and she was a key member of my command staff,” Pastor said in a prepared statement. “Patti has run the jail capably and compassionately while building a foundation of trust and respect with both her colleagues and individuals under her supervision. I wholeheartedly support and strongly endorse Patti Jackson for Sheriff.”

But Jackson is facing criticism about her leadership after the Pierce County Corrections Guild voted 150-14 in favor of a vote of no confidence towards her. Guild President Bryan Buckingham told The News Tribune the main concern among corrections deputies is a lack of training, citing some deputies have gone five to six years without a defensive tactics course.

More on Patti Jackson: Pierce County Corrections chief at odds with the employee guild

Troyer calls vote of no confidence toward Jackson ‘suspicious’

Troyer has since called the timing of the vote “suspicious,” considering that Jackson’s announcement of her candidacy as the next Pierce County Sheriff coincided with the vote.

“I’m saying a little bit suspicious because she’s been the chief of that correctional facility for eight years. And they’ve gone through multiple presidents of their guild in the last seven or eight weeks. And they’ve never come to me with any problems. And they’ve never come to me with any concerns. And then the day before her kickoff party to run for sheriff we see, you know, a newspaper story on it,” Troyer said to The Jason Rantz Show on AM 770 KTTH. “And the first I’ve ever heard about this, or my UnderSheriff, was last week, on a Friday afternoon. I never heard anything before any of it.”

And we heard about it from the media and not the guild. We work with the guilt a lot. I work with multiple guilds. And we respect guilds. And we work really hand in hand with them because we both want to get the same job done. In this particular incident, I’ve never met the guild president, they’ve never contacted me, they just went straight to the media with the results of what they wanted,” he continued.

Rantz asked Troyer why he thinks the guild voted no confidence.

“Well, I understand their main concern is training. And the training issue is a statewide issue. There are no academy classes for corrections officers right now. They’re bringing them back,” Troyer replied to Rantz. “Our corrections chief has built a training room, up in the upper floors of our jail in our vacant pods and self-defense room. And we’re working with the state to see if we can have our own training academy there.”

Troyer added he’s not sure if they knew what was happening and examined the communication taking place between the parties.

And that was all done by her trying to get her people training and other corrections officers around the state. I’m not sure if they were even aware that was going on or some of the things we’ve been doing. Now because of the lack of communication, if they were to contact us they would have learned all that,” he added.

Troyer comments on Jackson’s leadership style

Rantz then asked Troyer about Jackson’s leadership style, to which Troyer said, “She’s not difficult to work with at all and is very easy going.”

Troyer added Jackson has made contacts with multiple agencies and is “considered a leader in the state.”

However, he noted those in higher positions have to make harder decisions.

“You’re not going to make everybody happy, I’ve sure learned that,” Troyer said.

Troyer believes in keeping elected sheriffs

Troyer believes the department will be in “good hands” with Jackson. However, he thinks the community needs to keep elected sheriffs.

More from Gee & Ursula: Should judges be elected or appointed?

“It’s their last stand against, you know, the bad government. I mean, right now, if you’re not an appointed sheriff, you’re really not a sheriff because you’re a police chief, which if people decide to do that what they need to understand is your police chief isn’t running your county, police chief isn’t running the law enforcement agency in the city. They’re beholden to the councils, mayors and whatever government is in charge as an elected sheriff doesn’t matter whether it’s Democrats or Republicans, I answer to the voters and elected sheriffs answer the voters and that’s the way we need to keep it.”

Contributing: Julia Dallas; Jason Rantz, KTTH

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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Pierce County: Sheriff Ed Troyer is not running for reelection