The American Police Officers Alliance recently helped in King County, Washington. We partnered with Save Our Sheriff to help combat some harmful charter amendments. These amendments would vastly change the way that their sheriff’s department would work. They had charter amendments to change the sheriff’s office from an elected position to an appointed position and to give the county council the ability to set the duties of the sheriff’s department.
Charter amendment 5 and 6 both passed in the election. Charter amendment 5 was passed by only 56%. With the passing of this amendment, it gives the county council the authority to appoint the sheriff. This means that voters in King County will no longer be able to vote for their sheriff. In a time when many are calling for greater accountability of police and sheriffs, this is a very dangerous move by the county council. Now the sheriff does not have to worry about keeping in touch with the voters, he just needs to worry about the city council. If citizens truly want to hold sheriffs and police accountable, people should be allowed to cast their vote for their sheriffs and police chiefs.
The next big charter amendment to pass was amendment 6. Charter amendment 6 was a charter amendment that allows the county council to set the duties of the sheriff’s department. Before this amendment, the sheriff department’s policies were set by state law. Now they will be set by the county council. By doing this, the council will not only be able to set up policies that will impede the sheriff’s department, they will also be able to start defunding the sheriff’s office as well. If the county council deems that they do not want the sheriff’s department to provide a certain service, they can change the duties of the sheriff’s department. This is a dangerous level of power for the council to have.
Both these charter amendments show that dark times are ahead for the sheriff’s department of King County, Washington. With these two charter amendments, the county council will be able to take more control of the department, with little to no input from voters or other stakeholders, including the Sheriffs themselves.
The Election has come and gone, and Americans have chosen their new government. But the issues that spurred the debate of Election Season will not just go by the wayside as America moves forward. There are still existential problems facing our nation. Read more here.