by Paul Faruq Kiefer
(This article previously appeared on PubliCola and has been reprinted under an agreement.)
Starting Jan. 1, King County will have a new interim sheriff: Patti Cole-Tindall, previously an undersheriff in the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), will assume the role until County Executive Dow Constantine appoints a permanent sheriff in mid-2022.
Last year, county voters approved a charter amendment that sets up a process for appointing, rather than electing, the King County sheriff. Tindall will be King County’s first appointed sheriff in more than two decades.
Before joining the sheriff’s office in 2015, Tindall served as both the director of the County’s labor relations unit and interim director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, an independent agency that investigates misconduct and systemic problems in the sheriff’s office.
At a press conference Tuesday, Nov. 23, Tindall said that she doesn’t plan to apply for the permanent sheriff or for permanent chief of the Seattle Police Department (SPD), the two most prominent law enforcement job openings in the county. “I see my value in this appointed process as being there to help the permanent sheriff be successful,” she said. The County Council, with input from a panel of sheriff’s staff, community members, and local government representatives, is still reviewing candidates to become the permanent sheriff.
Constantine also debuted his proposal to provide hiring and retention incentives for sworn sheriff’s officers, which County Council budget chair Jeanne Kohl-Welles introduced as an emergency amendment to the County’s 2022 budget today. The proposal would provide $15,000 to officers who transfer from other departments, $7,500 to new hires, and a one-time $4,000 bonus to every officer in the department. Constantine argued that while the sheriff’s office, which has 60 vacant officer positions, isn’t currently struggling to meet demand, the incentives might help attract and retain officers as a growing number of officers reach retirement age.
King County Police Officers Guild (KCPOG) President Mike Mansanarez told reporters he supports the hiring and retention incentives. His counterpart at the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG), Mike Solan, voiced his skepticism about a similar hiring incentive program introduced by Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan in October.
Paul Faruq Kiefer is a journalist, historian, and born-and-bred Seattleite. He has published work with KUOW, North Carolina Public Radio, and The Progressive magazine, and he is currently working on a podcast for KUAF in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Paul reports on police accountability for PubliCola.
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