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Charter Amendment No. 6

Structure and Duties of the Department of Public Safety


Shall the King County charter be amended so that the duties of the county sheriff and the structure and duties of the department of public safety are established by county ordinance and the county executive is responsible for bargaining working conditions with the department of public safety's represented employees?




Before 1996, the sheriff was an appointed position and the county council had charter-based authority to abolish the department of public safety, combine it with other departments or offices, and decrease its duties. The voter-approved charter amendment passed in 1996, which made the sheriff an elected position, removed these charter-based authorities and set the duties of the county sheriff as specified by general law.

If Charter Amendment No. 6 is adopted, Charter Section 350.20.40 would be amended to provide that the county sheriff's duties be specified by ordinance, adopted by the county council. The section would also be amended to return to the council the authority to combine the department of public safety with other county departments or offices and the authority to decrease the department's duties. However, the department of public safety could not be abolished. (Charter Amendment No. 6 does not affect whether the sheriff is elected or appointed; that question is presented in Charter Amendment No. 5.)

Additionally, under the current charter the elected sheriff is responsible for bargaining with represented employees in the department of public safety on all matters except for compensation and benefits, which are negotiated by the county executive. If Charter Amendment No. 6 is adopted, all bargaining responsibilities would be placed with the county executive.

Charter Amendment 6 would result in improved safety, quality of service and emergency response times by prioritizing the needs of King County residences. When the King County Sheriff’s office isn’t inundated with requests to respond to things that could be managed by a mental health professional, limited-commissioned personnel or a civilian they will have an increased capacity to respond to emergencies that require a trained law enforcement officer. 

Someone who is in a mental health crisis needs a mental health response; neighborhood disputes such as noise complaints shouldn’t keep law enforcement from being present at real emergencies. 

Currently, the ability to resource these alternatives and in doing so allow for improved police response lives within the Sheriff’s discretion and not the citizens of King County. Charter Amendment 6 would put the power in the hands of the people by way of the non-partisan, elected county council members that we have chosen to represent our needs. 

Ask yourself, do we need police to do the work of social service agencies and mental health practitioners? Or do we need police to be present when there is an emergency in our community? For real public safety vote Yes on Charter Amendment 6. 

Sean Goode

Charter Amendment 6 would permit a drastic reduction of safety for much of King County and could hinder the level of service and reduce emergency response times.

Amendment 6 gives a few politicians power to fundamentally change the mission of our non-partisan Sheriff and allows a “partisan” County Council to defund or dismantle the office. This change was sponsored with Amendment 5 that takes away your right to vote for Sheriff.

The King County Sheriff’s Office serves cities, rural and unincorporated areas, and protects public transit. They lead the region’s response on human trafficking, help homeless citizens get much-needed assistance, find and rescue missing persons, respond to 911, and serve protection orders in domestic violence cases. Our Sheriff and deputies often help people on the worst day of their lives. They need increased support and funding, not less.

This effort to defund or dismantle the King County Sheriff’s Office is an overreaction to real concerns people have about the role of law enforcement in our community. Ask yourself: would my family and neighborhood be safer if we give this power to politicians with an unknown agenda that could make us less safe? Please vote No on Charter Amendment 6.

Dave Reichert, Kathy Lambert, Rob McKenna,

Charter amendment 6 would allow for the non-partisan officials elected by the residents of King County to prioritize resourcing the types of public safety that are best fit to meet the unique needs of our region. We currently trust these non-partisan elected officials to set the budget for our health and human services, parks, transit and many other local services. 
No part of this amendment, if approved, requires defunding the King County Sheriff’s office. 

You cannot improve public safety by defunding it. Our Sheriff’s Office is the most progressive in the country, leading by example with new reforms. To fight systemic inequities, they prioritize de-escalation training, and every officer takes mandatory implicit bias training. For transparency and accountability, all internal investigation reports on “use of force” incidents are published online.

Amendment 6 puts these first-in-the-nation reforms at risk by giving politicians the power to defund them.

Simple Majority (King County Charter, Section 800)

For questions about this measure, contact: Patrick Hamacher, Director of Council Initiatives, 
(206) 477-0880,

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