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Monday, January 28, 2008

King County Review Panel Gives Sheriff Good Grades!

This is the kind of story that I like to write about, that I want to write about, police management doing what it takes to improve discipline and accountability and getting results. King County Sheriff Sue Rahr is doing what it takes to reign in officers that are involved in misconduct, according to an oversight panel established by King County to review King County Sheriff's department policies and procedures after scathing reports of misconduct were appearing one right after another in the local news.

The report states that the sheriff has made disciplinary procedures more transparent and has positioned more line supervisors into positions where they can spot misconduct and react to it much faster. Additionally the sheriff has implemented changes to the citizen's complaint process that has improved accountability and transparency. This has resulted in noticeably fewer reports of misconduct from that department for a while now, especially when compared to the SPD's increasingly common reports of abuses and brutality.

Now, that's some real results! In fact, I commented on this back here about a story where the sheriff fired a deputy and another resigned over falsification of testimony charges. Indeed, some officers have been whining about these common sense policy implementations, but just like children who can't raid the cookie jar anymore, that will settle down when they realize throwing a tantrum won't grant them the right to misbehave again.

The panel and the sheriff both say more needs to be done, especially with contract negotiation rights between the sheriff and the police union, currently done between the County Executive and the union. They both say the sheriff needs more input in that process, and given the results the sheriff has brought about so far, I couldn't agree more.

The same problem that Seattle and King County face in regards to fierce union opposition to oversight and accountability efforts is playing out across the entire country, says a representative from NACOLE, the National Organization for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement. So, while Sue has made great strides to correct corruption problems in her department, without changes to the contract she's limited to what she can do just as Seattle is now.

Of course, It's still a sad contrast between the progress made at the King County Sheriff's Department and the Seattle Police Department. Sue Rahr has empowered her department to deal with misconduct issues while Gil Kerlikowske seems utterly unable and unwilling to manage his officers... in fact, the officers of his department and the guild seem to be managing him instead.

Congratulation Sue, your efforts are greatly appreciated and we hope you're able to keep up the great work on behalf of the public you serve!

Thanks for giving me something nice to write about for a change!!!

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