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Blue Ribbon Panel Findings Confirm Goals of Sheriff Oversight Legislation
King County CouncilmemberJulia Patterson praised the final report of the Sheriff’s Blue Ribbon Panel and said its recommendations will have a place in legislation she is co-sponsoring to create an independent office to review the handling of citizen complaints by the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“The report of the panel acknowledges the efforts of the men and women of the Sheriff’s Office,” said Patterson. “But it is also clear that changes must be made to increase transparency in the complaint process and restore the public’s trust that legitimate concerns will be thoroughly investigated.”
Panel chair Randy Revelle and co-chair Faith Ireland presented their final report to the Council’s Committee-of-the-Whole on September 11. Panel members were named in February by the County Council, County Executive and County Prosecutor. Some of the leading recommendations include:
Patterson and Councilmember Bob Ferguson co-sponsored legislation in January that would create two independent offices: one to review the Sheriff’s handling of citizen complaints, and one to conduct regular audits and recommend long-term policy reforms. Patterson is a member of the Council's Law, Justice and Human Services Committee, which held extensive briefings on the proposed legislation, receiving testimony from the King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Ombudsman, Seattle Police Department, and King County Auditor, among other officials, as well as a briefing from the Blue Ribbon Panel.
“This report complements our proposed legislation,” said Patterson. “We have an opportunity to integrate the ideas of a much-respected panel into the information we have received from a number of sources throughout the country. The result should be legislation that will present clear guidelines on how we will investigate complaints against law enforcement.”
provided for in the Patterson/Ferguson legislation is modeled after the
successful Office of Independent
Review (OIR) which monitors the Los Angeles County Sheriff's
Department to ensure that allegations of officer misconduct are investigated
in thorough, fair and effective ways. Councilmembers Patterson and Ferguson
traveled to Los Angeles last week and met with OIR investigators and staff
to see a working model of their review process and obtain a first-hand
view of what is working and what King County can build upon.