King County Council approves blueprint for civilian oversight of law enforcement

The Metropolitan King County Council adopted legislation expanding the authorities and functions of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) on Monday.

  • Tuesday, April 18, 2017 6:52am
  • News

The following is a release from King County:

The Metropolitan King County Council adopted legislation expanding the authorities and functions of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) on Monday. In 2015, King County voters overwhelmingly supported making civilian oversight an independent, charter-based agency of the County with investigatory powers of the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO)

“I am hopeful that we will make further progress toward making OLEO the most effective police oversight in the US,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett, prime sponsor of the legislation. “Oversight is vital and an independent, civilian directed panel if there are complaints is a strong step toward ensuring that people will continue to have confidence that their concerns about those enforcing the law will be investigate fairly.”

“Independent civilian police oversight is critical to addressing inequities and injustices in our criminal justice system,” said Council Vice Chair Rod Dembowski. “I am heartened by the broad support for today’s legislation and am proud to have co-sponsored it with Councilmember Gossett, and worked hard to pass it.”

The ordinance is subject to collective bargaining with police labor unions and cannot be fully implemented unless it aligns with collective bargaining.

“Today the Council took an important first step in setting the vision for strong oversight in King County, and we appreciate their leadership in achieving it,” said David Baker, Mayor of Kenmore and co-chair of OLEO’s Citizen’s Committee on Independent Oversight. “The next phase of critical leadership will be to ensure that the County’s collective bargaining agreements fulfill the ordinance as intended and expected by the voters of King County.”

The charter amendment increased OLEO’s scope of authority to directly investigate misconduct, complementing its existing authorities to monitor internal investigations, conduct systemic reviews and audits and engage in community outreach.

Under the adopted legislation, OLEO will also increase its effectiveness by being able to review the overall complaint handling process from intake through findings and conclusions. In addition to being able to certify the thoroughness and objectivity of an internal investigation, the office will be able to issue recommendations at key points in the complaint handling process, and when circumstances warrant it, directly investigate complaints.

Finally, the legislation establishes a forward-looking policy for the Sheriff to partner with and consult OLEO on the establishment and updating of policies and procedures prior to implementation. The goal is for OLEO and the Sheriff to work both separately and in a respectful partnership to strengthen and build on the integrity and service of KCSO employees who serve and protect the people of King County.

More in News

After Seattle’s controversial employee head tax was repealed, King County Executive Dow Constantine wants to bond against existing tax revenues to generate $100 million for affordable housing. Photo by Joe Mabel/Wikipedia Commons
County executive proposes $100 million affordable housing bond

The money was already coming, but Constantine wants to speed up the process.

Kenmore City Hall. File photo
Kenmore proclaims Pride Week for first time

Pride Week will be June 24-30 in the city of Kenmore.

Kenmore City Hall - Reporter file photo
Kenmore to consider plastic bag ban

Potential ordinance would encourage use of paper, resuable bags.

Sheriffs respond to stabbing in Bothell

A Bothell man stabbed a woman after an argument on June 16.

Seattle and King County officials want a safe injection van

The mobile project—an alternative to permanent sites—still doesn’t have a defined timeline.

An autopsy found that Tommy Le was shot twice in the back during an fatal encounter with a King County sheriff’s deputy. Photo courtesy Career Link
New report calls for increased transparency from King County Sheriff’s Office

The fatal shooting of Tommy Le served as a case study for researchers.

A scene from the 2017 Women’s March Seattle. Photo by Richard Ha/Flickr
County sexual harassment policies could be overhauled

One King County councilmember says male-dominated departments have “workplace culture issues.”

Bothell plans transportation improvements

Projects include road widening and Safe Routes to School.

Western Washington could see more wildfires this year

Lots of grass and warmer weather could make for worsening fire seasons.

Bothell sees benefits of state budget investments

The city received a $2 million check to fund the preservation and conservation of Wayne Golf Course.

St. Edward Lodge renovation to begin in July

The project to turn the old seminary building into a lodge will get underway this July.

Eastside groups discuss homelessness and affordable housing at community events

Five area service providers recently hosted a joint event to educate community members about the impacts of homelessness.