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King County Welcomes New Director of Police Oversight


Metropolitan King County
Council News

King County Welcomes New Director of Police Oversight


Seasoned advocate and Washington native Deborah Jacobs will lead OLEO


The Metropolitan King County Council announced today the hiring of Deborah Jacobs as Director for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), an independent government agency with responsibility for reviewing complaints relating to the King County Sheriff’s Office, its policies and practices.

“I can’t imagine a better place than King County to advocate for best police practices and the interests of its residents,” said Jacobs, a native of Washington State. “With diverse communities that are passionate about fairness, a sheriff with a strong reputation for accountability and a climate geared to best practices and professionalism, I feel confident that together we can not only serve the people of King County, but also play a leadership role as a nationwide model for effective oversight and collaboration.”

Jacobs takes the helm of a newly strengthened agency. In November, King County voters approved a measure to expand OLEO’s authority to investigate complaints. New precedents for investigations and advocacy will be established under her leadership.

“Ms. Jacobs will help King County deliver on our commitment to police accountability. She will increase transparency which I hope will improve trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve,” said King County Council Chair Joe McDermott. “I’m confident this work will help make all our communities safer.”

“Deborah Jacobs comes well prepared to fulfill the mandate of a more robust Office of Law Enforcement Oversight,” said Councilmember Larry Gossett. “She has deep knowledge of police practices, advocacy and experience in building relationships with communities.”

In a career dedicated to human rights, Jacobs has served in executive leadership positions for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Ms. Foundation for Women. She brings extensive knowledge of organizational management as well as expertise in police practices. As Executive Director for the ACLU of New Jersey for 13 years, Jacobs worked on a wide array of policing issues including Internal Affairs policies, bias-based policing, sexual harassment, local enforcement of federal immigration laws, and training. In Newark, she created an unprecedented model for documenting police misconduct, successfully making a case for DOJ intervention in the troubled Newark Police Department.

In addition to expertise on police practices, Jacobs has worked on a wide variety of civil liberties issues, including First Amendment rights, privacy, government transparency, economic justice, criminal justice policy and women’s health and safety.

Jacobs grew up in Ellensburg, where her father taught Law & Justice at Central Washington University. She holds a B.A. in English and an M.A. in Liberal Studies from Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Organizations including the National Organization for Women, the NAACP, and the Peoples Organization for Progress have formally recognized Jacobs’ advocacy. She was also the recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Helsinki, Finland.
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