Sheriff's Office Contracts Program
Communities have unique law enforcement needs, but they also have tight budgets. The King County Sheriff's Office contracts program provides a way for cities, tribes, transit systems and others to have local control and identity for their police, and to save money through the economies of scale and efficiencies present in contracts.
The King County Sheriff's Office has provided contract services since 1973. Today, the Sheriff's Office serves 12 cities and towns with contract police services. In addition, we provide services to almost 20 other organizations including the King County International Airport, Metro Transit, the Muckleshoot Tribe, and many school districts.
We maintain a full cost recovery contract model. The model charges contract holders for all salaries, benefits, supplies, and associated overhead.
History of Contracts
Many cities were formed following passage of the 1990 Growth Management Act. We realized that they would need professional law enforcement services at a reasonable cost. The cities welcomed the opportunity to gain local control and identity while also avoiding the enormous start-up costs. Some believed that the contract was merely a “stepping stone” to a stand-alone department. Over time, our partnership has developed, and the cities and county recognize the long-term benefits of contracts. It is no longer a stepping-stone, but a viable and effective solution for the future.
Cities and other agencies or jurisdictions that contract with the KCSO for police services enjoy the benefits of local control and identity, as well as our law enforcement experience. All partners in the contract program enjoy the financial benefit of economies of scale. Further, the deputies who work for our contract partners remain KCSO employees — the cities avoid all liability for police actions. Employees benefit because they maintain their seniority and benefits even if they transfer between cities or the county. Following are additional benefits our contract customers enjoy.
Each city may choose which police services they want to receive, based on their local priorities. Specialized police services such as SWAT, Drug Enforcement, Air Support, Bomb Disposal, Canine and Marine Unit services may be selected as base level services, or the city can opt to have these services available on a callout basis. Every city within King County has access to these services on a call-out basis. Cities can have a strong voice and participate in selecting their personnel. Cities can also set the direction and tone of police priorities for their community. Additionally, the city determines what their police staffing levels will be. Several cities have elected to provide officers with office space at City Hall to promote a close working relationship with the officers. A Police Oversight Committee, which embodies the partnership between contract cities and King County, provides a forum for communications necessary to maintain a mutually beneficial relationship and ensure that services evolve to meet the contract city's ongoing and unique needs.
Cities can also choose to have distinctive uniforms and vehicles marked with their city logo, demonstrating the independence of their city department.
Economy Of Scale
Contracts can take advantage of the capacities of a large-scale department, which includes numerous specialized police services, equipment, and necessary support functions such as record keeping. Costs are shared between unincorporated King County and contract cities, reducing the impact of administration, operation, specialization and equipment.
Contract entities have a large pool of police professionals with varied backgrounds and expertise to choose from. Our detectives become experts in specialized fields and are recognized within King County, and in some cases, nationally, for their work.
The King County Sheriff's Office assumes all liability for salary, wages, any other compensation, injury, sickness or liability to the public for negligent acts or omissions arising from the performance of the law enforcement services by the County.
Community Oriented Policing
The King County Sheriff's Office adopted and implemented the Community Oriented Policing (COP) program in 1994. The focus of police work has shifted from solely handling emergency calls to solving problems before they become repeat calls. We believe that community policing is based on the concept that police officers, private citizens and social and health service providers work together in creative ways to help solve problems related to crime, fear of crime, social and physical disorder and neighborhood decay. Our overall approach to community policing is founded in Partnership, Problem Solving and Prevention. Personnel The Sheriff's Office is responsible for recruiting, testing, hiring, labor negotiations, discipline and related issues.