by Carolyn Bick
This is the fourth article in a series of articles examining the pushback and internal pressure former Office of Law Enforcement (OLEO) director Deborah Jacobs appears to have faced during her tenure at OLEO. This pushback appears to have mainly stemmed from within the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), the very law enforcement entity OLEO is tasked with overseeing, as well as the King County Police Officer’s Guild (KCPOG), some of whose members belong to the KCSO. Multiple sources have alleged that certain members of the KCSO and the KCPOG mounted an internal campaign against Jacobs and said that the main goal of the campaign was Jacobs’ ouster. The King County Council decided not to renew Jacobs’ contract, after an independent investigation found that Jacobs had violated King County discrimination codes. Jacobs has since filed a tort claim against King County. You can read part one of this series here, part two of this series here, and part three of this series here.
Deborah Jacobs officially lost her job as King County’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight director on the first day of September, 2020. That was the day the King County Council voted — narrowly, in a five-to-four vote — not to renew her contract. She spent one of the last days on the job presenting the independent investigative report her office commissioned into Tommy Le’s 2017 shooting death at the hands of a King County Sheriff’s officer.
And then, she was out.
Jacobs does not appear to have been entirely blameless in the loss of her job. As noted repeatedly throughout this series, the King County Council decided not to renew her contract because an independent investigation the Council commissioned found that she made discriminatory and inappropriate comments towards employees about other Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) employees or others outside OLEO.
The Emerald was unable to interview current OLEO employees or King County Councilmembers (KCC) about the issue due to a tort claim Jacobs filed against the County. The Emerald also requested comment from a past OLEO employee who declined to provide one. Thus, this article is based upon the final investigative report the KCC’s Employment and Administration Committee referred to in their Aug. 18, 2020, vote not to renew Jacobs’ contract. It’s worth pointing out that the Council’s Employment and Administration Committee is made up of all nine councilmembers. Notably, when it came time for the final full-Council vote in September, one councilmember — Joe McDermott — changed his vote in favor of keeping Jacobs on as OLEO director, despite having voted not to renew her contract in the Employment and Administration Committee vote. McDermott did not offer an explanation for the change of heart.
Publicly, Jacobs’ downfall was a rapid one.Continue reading A Director’s Downfall: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County