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‘You Don’t Make a Lot of Friends’: The Uphill Battle for Oversight in King County

by Carolyn Bick

This is the third 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 and part two of this series here.

Author’s Note: Several sources requested anonymity over concerns of retaliation or professional repercussions. These sources are noted as such throughout the piece. Their real names have not been used.

“Designed to Frustrate the Work of OLEO” 

When Deborah Jacobs was hired as the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight’s director in mid-June of 2016, “she took her job seriously,” one of the Emerald’s anonymous sources, Dan, said. But the critical eye the office cast over law enforcement at the King County Sheriff’s Office meant that Jacobs made few friends, he said.

“[OLEO] actually started going through the cases, the investigations, and then asking — as is their right — for follow-ups,” Dan said. “Like, ‘You did not do a good job on this interview. Why did you not ask these questions?’ And if there is nothing cops hate more, it’s being told they don’t know how to do their jobs.”

Dan said that this “also started to sort of change the temperature when it comes to her. Because it was happening a lot. There were a number of people [at the KCSO] that OLEO had deemed were not thorough and complete” in their investigations or processes.

“Then, you start getting into the pride issue, and ‘Who are you to know what police work is?’ And all that BS,” Dan continued. He told the Emerald that he believes that there was a way for Jacobs to have approached this work in a way that would not have “gotten a knee-jerk reaction … but it just didn’t happen. 

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