King County Council Vice Chair Reagan Dunn on Monday proposed a package of funding requests as part of King County’s 2021 biennial budget negotiations, seeking to restore funding that has been cut from the King County Sheriff’s Office.
“Especially as violent crime rises to record levels, I believe it’s King County’s fundamental duty to adequately fund our Sheriff’s Office so that they have the staff and resources they need to respond to our residents in their moments of crisis and even tragedy,” Dunn said. “My proposal would fill some glaring funding gaps and restore police presence while also investing in some new public safety efforts.”
Dunn’s $14.4 million proposal includes:
- Restoring cuts to deputies and support staff that were taken in the 2021-22 biennial budget
- Re-establishing the gang unit to target violent gang activity and break up distribution rings
- Recruiting and retaining deputies by giving the Sheriff’s Office the resources to help recruit and retain high quality officers, including hiring and retention bonus
- Addressing crimes of hate and bias by providing the resources necessary to thoroughly investigate crimes motivated by hate and bias
- Enhancing community safety and supports by keeping King County Sheriff Office storefronts staffed and providing resources to neighborhood crime watch groups
- Protecting service levels for non-emergency calls by providing the funding needed for non-emergency services such as traffic control, permit enforcement, and responding to low level crimes
- Providing tools and support to help deputies do their jobs effectively by investing in data collection, labor relations and equipment, such as body cameras, that will streamline evidence collection while helping keep the office accountable to the public
Dunn submitted a letter (attached) to the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee outlining his “Re-Fund the Police” initiative, in which he points out that there was a 40% reduction in Sheriff’s deputies serving unincorporated areas between the years 2008 to 2020 — so when King County further cut the Sheriff’s Office funding by $8.5 million and 22 full-time positions in its 2021-2022 Biennial Budget, this only deepened funding cuts that have been ongoing for many years.
In his letter, Dunn emphasizes that these service cuts have occurred despite skyrocketing crime—including record-level shootings and homicides, a near doubling in domestic violence rates, and the rise of fentanyl trafficking, which has led to staggering increases in fatal overdoses.
Dunn’s budget proposal will be considered by the Budget and Fiscal Management Committee for implementation as an amendment to the supplemental budget currently under consideration by the Council.