Historical Law Enforcement Records
All of the following records are held by the King County Archives unless otherwise indicated.
Jail registers, 1891-1895
Record of prisoners in the King County jail. Record information includes name, date admitted, date released, and nature of offense. These records are held by the Puget Sound [state] Regional Archives (external link) as part of a series of criminal court record books.
State examination reports reference file, 1905-1926
The Bureau of Inspection and Supervision of Public Offices functioned as an independent state agency between 1909 and 1921. It was charged with the final fiscal auditing of all county account books. This reference file, maintained by the King County Auditor, consists of summary reports (covering one year or several) of primarily fiscal audits of King County officials and agencies. Some administrative and procedural commentary and recommendations may be included. Reports cover the King County Sheriff and constables.
Coroner's scrapbooks, 1914-1969
From March 1914 to April 1969 the King County Coroner's Office clipped articles from Seattle newspapers (primarily the Times, Post-Intelligencer, Union Record, and Star) regarding incidents in which the Coroner's Office was, or could be expected to be, officially involved. These were usually incidents of violent or accidental death.
In cases of criminal homicide, newspaper coverage includes accounts of police investigations, suspect arrests, and court trials and verdicts. These newspaper accounts supplement the law enforcement holdings of the King County Archives for the time period.
During the time period covered by these records, the Coroner was an elected county office, and these scrapbooks also hold information relating to election campaigns.
The clippings were originally pasted into large volumes. The volumes have been disassembled and their pages removed, photocopied (1914-1953) and digitally reproduced (1953-1969). Clippings on each page are arranged in general chronological order and were date-stamped by Coroner's Office staff. A few pages have been maintained in their original state, including those with clippings relating to the second major avalanche involving a Great Northern Railroad passenger train, at Corea (1916); the confrontation at Everett, Washington between members of the International Workers of the World and local law enforcement officials (1916); Seattle's Grand Theater fire (1917); the death of United States Representative Marion Zioncheck (1936); and the crash of a Boeing bomber into the Frye meat packing plant during World War II (1943).
Please contact the Archives with questions, or to schedule a viewing appointment.
Matt Starwich scrapbooks, 1920 - 1930 [microform]
Matt Starwich was King County sheriff from 1921 to 1926. Prior to that time he was a deputy sheriff in southeast King County. These microfilm records contain copies of two scrapbooks that Starwich maintained while he was sheriff. They include newspaper clippings and photographs which document the operation and activities of the Sheriff's office and staff during the time period. These records are held by the University of Washington Microforms and Newspapers Collection (external link).
Jail Registers, 1928 - 1987
King County jail registers ranging from years 1928 through 1987 are held at the King County Archives. The complete run of years is present for 1943-1978. Years outside that range are incomplete. Entries are for the most part grouped alphabetically by last name and listed chronologically. Records vary but most include name, gender, ethnicity, offense, and occupation, as well as booking and release date and authority for release. Some volumes include both male and female prisoners, even though the cover title indicates men only. Volumes for 1928-1929 and 1931-1937 document women prisoners only.
Department of Public Safety annual reports, 1963-1991
This series consists of reports, primarily statistical with some narrative text and photographic material, of law enforcement activities by the King County Sheriff's Office (1963-1968) and its successor agency, the Department of Public Safety (1969-1990; 1987 not present ). Title varies: annual report (1963-1975), annual statistical report (1976-1980), statistical report (1983-1986). Reports from 1988 to 1990 are those of the King County Police, which was an administrative subdivision of the Department of Public Safety during that time period. This series also includes two special reports: a semi-annual report of the Intelligence Section (1975), and a ten-year report for the period 1970-1979. The reports are arranged chronologically.
Department of Public Safety photograph files, 1965-1998
Files include photographs and negatives generated in the Department of Public Safety and maintained by its Latent Print Unit, which includes the work of the department (accident and crime site photographs, community outreach programs, youth anti-drug efforts, marine patrols, training sessions and police units) and promotional photographs and negatives (service awards, sporting events, departmental parties and images taken for County Executive and Auditor's offices). Also included are photographs and negatives used as evidence in crime investigations (latent finger print negatives, suspect shots, etc.). These photographs are arranged by date and are minimally indexed. Please contact the Archives regarding access.
Sheriff's public information releases, 1966-1967
This series consists of press releases and articles generated by the Sheriff's office during the 1960s. The articles, most of which are numbered and written under the byline of Sheriff Jack D. Porter, were printed in local newspapers as a column entitled, "The Human Side of the Law." Topical material includess information about women in prison; youth offenders and crime; and general social, environmental and political commentary. Individual items are undated but appear to have been written between 1966 and 1967.
Department of Public Safety general information bulletins, 1970-1991
Bulletins circulated to county police listing job openings, training opportunities, new regulations, special events and news of interest to department employees.
Department of Public Safety issue files, 1972-1986
This series contains subject files of the department director, including correspondence, reports and other materials.
Sheriff's Office yearbooks, 1983, 1988, 1998
Beginning in 1983, the King County Sheriff's Office (known as the Department of Public Safety, 1969-1999) periodically published commemorative yearbooks. The volumes, prepared by departmental staff and funded by Public Safety Employees Local #519 (1983, 1988) and the King County Police Officers' Association (1998), were intended both to document the year in which they were published, and to celebrate the entire history of the Sheriff's Office. Contemporary and historical information, frequently undated, is interspersed in the volumes. The yearbooks contain color and black-and-white photographs of officers, detectives, support staff, police dogs, special law enforcement teams, facilities, equipment, programs and events; retrospective rosters of past sheriffs and departmental award winners; reproduced graphics (for example, city logos, department art and cartoons); and reproductions of departmental ephemera (flyers, circulars, broadsides, invitations, newspaper and newsletter articles, occasional poetry, humor, press releases, holiday greeting cards, etc).
Please contact the Archives with questions, or to schedule a viewing appointment.
"The Willows" Detention Facility
In 1913 the Washington State legislature passed the so-called "Lazy Husband's Act," which authorized county commissioners to put to work individuals convicted of family desertion or non-support, and to pay the individuals' wages (a minimum of one dollar per day) to their wives or families. King County responded by constructing (1916) a detention facility in Bothell. It was re-established in 1920 on Willows Road NE near Redmond where it was known variously as "The Willows," the County Farm, the Willows Stockade, or the Lazy Husbands' Farm. Prisoners grew crops or tended dairy cattle. King County closed "The Willows" in 1932, transferring prisoners to the county jail. Over the next fifteen years the buildings and equipment were dispersed and the property ultimately sold.
The King County Archives holds the following records relating to "The Willows." Please contact the Archives for further information:
- Property transaction records, 1916
- King County Commissioners' proceedings (record of purchases, sales, contracts, other transactions), 1916-1940
- Budgets or financial audit reports, 1916-1940
- Area map, 1919
- Rules and regulations regarding use of equipment, 1920
- Management audit report (farm operations), 1916-1936
- Drawing illustrating a proposed reuse as a mens' camp (c. 1938-1943)