Oppose King County Charter Amendments 5 & 6

The Sheriff should remain accountable to the people of King County, not the county council.

  • Wednesday, October 28, 2020 6:46pm
  • Opinion

The murder of George Floyd has raised an important discussion around law enforcement reform. Lasting reform can only be achieved when communities, law enforcement and elected leaders all sit down and work to understand the issues, build trust and chart a course forward – together.

We elected a Sheriff who has enacted real reforms:

  • compliance with 8 Can’t-Wait audit, updated policies within a week of receiving report
  • Use of Force Dashboard
  • moved Internal Investigations Unit out of chain of command

An elected Sheriff serves as a check and balance; the county council sets the budget. Amendment 5 would give the county council and Executive total control over law enforcement, and create the risk of political agendas driving public safety decisions. An elected Sheriff has no political agenda, only an agenda of public safety.

In 1996, people in White Center, Skyway, Burien and South Seattle voted decisively in favor of having an elected Sheriff, over concerns about political influence and corruption. We should not silence these voices. Our voices can have a powerful impact to cast a deciding vote for a candidate who will foster reform, while keeping the public safe. Seattle Medium, the largest African American owned and operated newspaper in the Pacific Northwest, writing about issues important to African American and minority communities, recommended voting against Amendments 5 and 6.

One piece of misinformation being spread is that an elected Sheriff must come from the Sheriff’s Office or other local police agency. In fact, any person eligible to vote in King County can run for Sheriff and must obtain basic law enforcement training within one year of assuming office. (RCW 36.28.025) The people of King County also have the power to recall a Sheriff. It isn’t a mythical process – recalls are in progress right now for Thurston and Snohomish county Sheriffs.

What makes the King County Council more qualified than the voters to select a Sheriff? The council has a very poor track record selecting the last two Directors of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, whose contracts were ended after multiple employee complaints. The cities of Woodinville, Enumclaw, Covington, Maple Valley and Carnation have passed resolutions against these amendments, to highlight the risks to their residents.

Amendment 6 poses very real risks to residents because it allows the King County Council to descope and deviate the sheriff’s duties from what is written in state law.

Charter Amendment 6 was not recommended by or voted on by the Charter Commission.

Amendment 6 could impact Major Crimes Unit, Guardian helicopters, Marine Rescue, TAC-30 (SWAT) and Search and Rescue. As a search and rescue volunteer, I have responded many times to help residents on Vashon, and I know how important all of these services are to the people of Vashon and Maury Islands.

The Sheriff should remain accountable to the people of King County, not the county council.

Vote NO on Amendments 5 & 6. For more information, visit keepoursheriffelected.org.

— Glenn Wallace

Committee Chair

Keep Our Sheriff Elected


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@vashonbeachcomber.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.vashonbeachcomber.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Opinion

Something to Celebrate: the Return of ‘Island Child’

We are grateful for the opportunity to once again provide the resource of this guide.

x
Schools Foundation Supports the Whole Student

The state doesn’t fully fund public education. Vashon Schools Foundation works to cover the shortfall

x
Our Local Radio Station Brings Community Together

Allow me to share some of my key learnings over the last year about the magic of Voice of Vashon.

x
Board Candidates, Community Should Envision What Is Possible

An open seat on Water District 19’s board is an opportunity to support affordable island housing.

Only Change Can Bring Justice

Policing must be reformed in our nation.

x
Adrift on Vashon

I’ve been looking for a home on Vashon for three years.

x
The Kids Are Back, Adapting, Adjusting and Learning

We’re adapting and adjusting all our systems at Chautauqua and will continue to do so in the future.

x
A Task of Love Takes Deep Dive To Understand War

A new series on Voice of Vashon about the Vietnam War takes a human perspective over a political one

x
Scholarship Foundation Looking For Hometown Heroes

The scholarship celebrates a graduating senior who is inclusive, curious, responsible and resilient.

x
Keeping Maury Island Maury

There are a number of good, and possibly excellent reasons, to name the island after Maury Wills.

Impacts of Year-Long Isolation Are Deep for Island Youth

A series of articles written for The Riptide cover mental health issues facing Vashon youth.

x
Stimulus #3 to the Rescue

The American Rescue Plan directs resources to those who are most likely to spend it on necessities.