October 25, 2022
King County Councilmember Dave Upthegrove is praising the new agreement between King County and the King County Police Officers Guild which will allow increased oversight of the King County Sheriff's Office by King County’s independent civilian Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO).
Under the new agreement being introduced at the King County Council later today, OLEO will now be able to undertake independent administrative investigations and also will be granted subpoena powers. These two changes will substantially increase the ability to provide meaningful oversight of the King County Sheriff's Office.
“The public has been clear in their call for more independent oversight of law enforcement. It is an issue of accountability, and we are delivering results," said Upthegrove.
The King County Council previously approved these powers for OLEO, and with the support of King County voters, included them in the King County charter. However, state law gives police unions the ability to negotiate the elements of oversight, and the King County Police Officers Guild has previously opposed granting this authority to OLEO.
"Like many others, I have pushed hard for years for these important changes in order to strengthen law enforcement oversight,” said Upthegrove. “When people throughout King County took to the streets to demand more accountable policing, we seized that momentum and have kept at it. As a result, we have now made real progress for King County with truly independent investigations and subpoena powers. Now it will be critical to secure funding for additional staff at OLEO to be able to conduct the investigations and provide this greater level of oversight,” said Upthegrove, who pledged his support for increased staff for OLEO in the 2023-2024 King County budget.
The proposed labor contract with these provisions has been approved by the King County Police Officers Guild and now awaits final approval by the King County Council.