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Charter amendment to establish charter-based office for civilian oversight of law enforcement sent to November ballot

Summary

OLEO is an independent King County agency responsible for receiving complaints of alleged officer misconduct, actively monitoring the Sheriff’s internal investigations unit, and assessing its thoroughness and objectivity

Story

The Metropolitan King County Council today approved sending to the voters in November a proposed charter amendment concerning theOffice of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), the agency established by the Council to ensure the integrity of the King County Sheriff’s Office complaint and internal investigations process.

“Independent, transparent and accountable civilian oversight of law enforcement is essential for protecting the fundamental freedoms of all citizens and their right to safeguards against abuse of power,” said Council Chair Larry Phillips. “In November, voters will have the choice to establish a charter-based civilian office of law enforcement helping to ensure integrity, transparency, and accountability are sustained in the King County Sheriff’s office.”

“This is an opportunity for the people of King County to have a voice in the direction of investigating matters of misconduct in the Sheriff’s Office,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett.

“This action will give voters the opportunity, in the November election, to directly influence the way that law enforcement oversight occurs in King County,” said Council Vice Chair Joe McDermott.

“My constituents in South King County are demanding more accountable and transparent policing,” said Councilmember Dave Upthegrove. “This charter amendment will allow the citizens of King County the opportunity to vote to create a stronger system with the opportunity for stronger civilian oversight.”

Established by the County Council in 2009, OLEO is an independent King County agency responsible for receiving complaints of alleged officer misconduct, actively monitoring the Sheriff’s internal investigations unit, and assessing its thoroughness and objectivity. The proposed charter amendment would NOT dissolve the current office or the citizen advisory committee that works with OLEO.

If adopted by the voters, the proposed charter amendment would:

• Establish OLEO as charter-based agency,
• Establish OLEO’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee as a charter-based panel,
• Make the appointment of the OLEO Director and the members of the Citizen’s Advisory Committee the responsibility of the Council and not the County Executive,
• Broaden the responsibilities of the Citizen Advisory Committee. It would review, advise, and report on OLEO in a manner prescribed by ordinance. The committee would also be required to advise the Sheriff and the Council on matters of equity and social justice related to law enforcement and would be permitted to advise the Sheriff and the Council on any systemic problems and opportunities for improvement in the law enforcement practices of the Department of Public Safety,
• Broaden OLEO’s scope of authority, permitting OLEO itself to investigate the conduct of law enforcement officers that results in a complaint or that involves the use of force, rather than being limited to monitoring investigations conducted by KCSO’s Internal Investigation Unit (IIU),
• Extend OLEO’s oversight to matters involving the use of force by county law enforcement officers, even in the absence of a complaint.

Even if the charter amendment is adopted by voters, there are still items that will be subject to collective bargaining with the union representing the Sheriff deputies.

Contact the Council
Main phone:
206-477-1000
TTY/TDD:
206-296-1024
Fax:
206-296-0198