The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight is an independent King County agency responsible for ensuring the integrity of the King County Sheriff’s Office complaint and internal investigations processes.
The powers and duties of OLEO are established in King County Code 2.75. The office has the following authority:
- Receive complaints from any complaining party concerning the Sheriff’s office, track complaints received and transmit the complaints to the Internal Investigations Unit.
- Monitor the investigation and resolution of all personnel complaints to assure that they are handled in a timely fashion and that complainants are notified of the final disposition of their complaints.
- Determine in writing whether each personnel complaint investigation was thorough and objective, and request additional investigation if needed.
- Coordinate with the Sheriff’s office in the development of technology applications for tracking and information sharing.
- Issue annual reports, which include a statistical analysis of complaints, investigative findings, and final discipline for sustained complaints.
- Make recommendations for action by the Sheriff on needed improvements in policies, procedures, and practices stemming from analysis that looks beyond individual cases of misconduct.
- Review the written findings of a shooting or accident review board.
- Work in collaboration with the Sheriff’s office to establish and administer a volunteer officer-citizen mediation program.
- Monitor any incidents involving Critical Incidents. Critical Incidents include the use of deadly force, in-custody deaths, officer-involved shootings, and any use of force or vehicular pursuit that results in death or injury requiring hospitalization.
- Receive timely notification of and have the opportunity to attend scenes of Critical Incidents requiring callout of the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) and/or the Administrative Review Team (ART). OLEO staff shall be stationed at the Command Post and interact only with the administrative team as liaison with the CID. After the initial investigation is complete and scene secured, a representative from CID will escort the OLEO representative through the scene.
- Attend Use of Force Review Boards and Department-level Driving Review Boards as a non-voting member.
In September 2006, the King County Sheriff's Blue Ribbon Panel recommended creation of an Office of Independent Oversight. In October 2006, the County Council adopted Ordinance 15611, establishing the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight. The original authority established under that ordinance was revised in May 2009 through Council adoption of Ordinance 16511. OLEO began operations in October 2011.
In 2015, the voters of King County approved a charter amendment, establishing OLEO as a charter-based agency and expanding its scope and authority. This additional OLEO authority to carry out its duties is to be established by ordinance. The charter amendment also enhances the role of the Citizens Committee on Independent Oversight to advise and report on the work of OLEO, equity and social justice and public safety practices.
Until the Ordinance implementing the charter amendment is in place, OLEO will continue to work with stakeholders to assure efficient civilian oversight of the King County Sheriff's Office, based on its current mandate.
OLEO is also moving forward on a variety of initiatives, including:
- improving internal systems for receiving complaints, monitoring on-going internal investigations, and determining if completed investigations are thorough and objective
- developing a robust community outreach program
- partnering with, and empowering, the Citizens Committee on Independent Oversight (CCIO)
- enhancing analysis and reporting of results of complaints
- providing the public information on law enforcement oversight applicable to King County government