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King County

Charter Amendment No. 1
Law Enforcement Oversight

Shall the King County Charter be amended to establish a charter-based civilian office of law enforcement oversight, to provide the office with appropriate authority to carry out its duties, to establish a charter-based citizen advisory committee on law enforcement oversight and to make the county executive, in consultation with the county sheriff, the county’s bargaining agent concerning oversight of law enforcement, all as provided in Ordinance 18087?



Charter Amendment No. 1 would establish charter-based requirements for a civilian office of law enforcement oversight (OLEO) and a citizen’s advisory committee on law enforcement oversight (Citizen’s Advisory Committee). Both OLEO and the Citizen’s Advisory Committee currently exist pursuant to a council-adopted ordinance. If this charter amendment is approved, they would become charter-based requirements and would require voter approval for amendment or repeal.

Under the charter amendment, OLEO’s authority would be established by ordinance and is anticipated to include the authority to investigate, review and analyze the conduct of county law enforcement officers where there has been a complaint against officers or use of force by them. It is also anticipated to include authority to review resulting internal investigations and disciplinary actions. OLEO would have access to relevant information in department of public safety files and could inspect crime scenes, conduct interviews, and participate in internal investigations and review hearings. It is anticipated OLEO will have authority to publish recommendations and to conduct community outreach. OLEO’s director would be appointed by the council for a four-year term.

The Citizen’s Advisory Committee would advise and report on the work of OLEO, matters of equity and social justice, and opportunities for improvement in department of public safety practices. The committee’s membership would be prescribed by ordinance.

The proposed amendment would further require that for purposes of collective bargaining, matters of civilian oversight of law enforcement that impact wages, hours or working conditions would be negotiated by the executive in consultation with the sheriff.

For questions about this measure, contact: Nick Wagner, King County Council staff,

Our citizens are increasingly demanding greater transparency, accountability and oversight in the critical operations of law enforcement. The proposed charter amendment is tailored and balanced to provide the appropriate level of citizen mandated oversight while empowering officers to effectively carry out their duties. Providing greater oversight of the Sheriff’s Office comes at a vital time in King County’s history as an opportunity to build and maintain trust between officers and the citizens whom they protect. By identifying instances of significant misconduct when they occur, citizens have the opportunity to better protect their fundamental rights against abuse of power. This charter amendment also establishes a citizen advisory committee to review, advise and report on matters of equity and social justice reinforcing law enforcement’s commitment to fair and just treatment of all citizens. In a democratic society, effective civilian oversight of law enforcement is essential.  The time is now for independent, transparent and accountable civilian oversight of law enforcement. Vote yes to amend the King County Charter establishing a civilian office of law enforcement oversight.

Endorsed by:

Bob Ferguson, Washington State Attorney General

Faith Ireland, Justice, Washington State Supreme Court (Ret.)

Jenny A. Durkan, Former U.S. Attorney, Western District of Washington

Statements submitted by: Larry Phillips, Estela Ortega, and Larry Gossett

Office of Law Enforcement OLEO was council created and went through a prolonged court and arbitration process.  This proposal adds an additional level of bureaucracy requiring renegotiations with affected unions. 

Assuming our current process is broken is in error.  Our Sheriff is extremely proactive in providing oversight with the OLEO office.  Issues can be quickly and fairly resolved.  Therefore, this proposal is premature, unnecessary, inflexible, and subject to years of union renegotiations.

Currently, there is a layered approach to transparently solving problems.  The system has an internal investigation unit and a Citizen Oversight Board. If there were still unresolved issues, citizens could contact councilmembers, the sheriff or county ombudsman. In addition, contract cities provide oversight through their councils.

We’re beginning the process of hiring a new full time OLEO director.  Any change in the management structure will stall the current recruitment progress into 2016 and beyond .  We should allow the current system to operate as designed.   County cannot deliver a new model of civilian oversight without negotiations which have already translated into more expensive costs.

Potential problems can be solved under the current system.  Our current system provides police transparency and good community service to keep us safe.

Statements submitted by: Kathy Lambert and Tricia Richards,

Our current system does not provide the authority, transparency, accountability and civilian oversight citizens in King County and across our nation are demanding. Increasing citizen oversight of critical incidents helps ensure equity while engendering trust in law enforcement’s commitment to the use of force appropriately and justifiably. It holds down the financial costs of lawsuits while upholding professionalism and the values of our democracy, leading to more accountability for residents of our community.

This charter ignores the facts:  We Already have a diverse Citizen’s Oversight Committee meeting monthly. Enacting this additional level of management will require further negotiations with the affected unions and cause the current director hiring processes to delay into 2016 or later.  Now is the time to allow the practices already agreed upon to fully function and operate as designed.  This bureaucratic, expensive charter is unnecessary and redundant.  Vote No.

Simple majority (King County Charter Sec. 800)

1266 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

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