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Police Partnerships

Police Partnerships

Sharing resources, expertise and cost, for smart use of taxpayer dollars.

Our partnerships are an important and integral part of the King County Sheriff’s Office. We value our contract partners. These relationships are crucial to protecting our residents and play an important role in our ability to offer a cost effective variety of resources, that we can tailor to each community’s needs.

- Sheriff Patricia Cole-Tindall

The Police Partnership Program

Our partnership program provides the framework and options around which a city or other agency can tailor its own police department to suit its own local priorities and budget goals. Police staffing levels, crime emphasis, and proactive community programs are all determined entirely by the city or agency. The benefit is gained by leveraging economies of scale with the King County Sheriff's Office patrol, investigations, and numerous specialty services.

Savings through economies of scale

The U.S. has roughly 18,000 separate local law enforcement agencies. Each agency has basic systems and infrastructure needs, such as officer recruiting, training, uniforms, vehicles, and legal support, just to name a few. Because there are so many separate systems and infrastructure needs, duplication and redundancy are created. By combining efforts to share infrastructure, resources and expertise, taxpayer dollars are used more efficiently. Partners also have the benefit of constant access to officer backup from other nearby partner city officers or unincorporated Sheriff’s Office patrol deputies (called “cross dispatching”), which allows partners to staff at efficient and cost-saving levels.

Just a few of the benefits to partners...

  • You interview and select your police chief.
  • Leverage existing infrastructure to save valuable taxpayer dollars.
  • Change police priorities or police department staffing as you see fit.
  • Customize your police uniforms and create your unique vehicle markings.
  • Realize additional cost savings with cross dispatching from nearby officers.
  • King County maintains full liability.
  • Access numerous specialized units with extensive training and experience.
  • Remain free of countless police administration responsibilities.

A lot is included.

It's actually easier to detail what's NOT included. Services not included are: jail, court services, animal control, prosecution, and public defense. Everything else that you need to run a successful, experienced, and highly trained police department is included. (See this link because we couldn't fit it all in this box!).

Identity and control stay at home.

A key principle adopted in our shared city interlocal agreement is that, "each city should have the ability to choose unique police uniforms and markings for police vehicles assigned to the city."

Today, partner cities and agencies wear dark blue or black uniforms with unique police patches. Partners also design their own vehicle markings, provided that some form of the Sheriff's logo is retained on the vehicle (you'll usually find it by the mud flap!). In addition to the unique police department's "look," partners have complete control over policing priorities, department staffing, police program type, and selection process for their police chiefs.

As well, police chiefs report directly to the city manager/administrator or agency executive, and function like any other department head. Our priority is keeping identity and control where it belongs--with the partner city or agency.

Cost works...

Costs are determined a number of ways, depending on what service is selected. The majority of shared service costs are determined by actual use of a service, while dedicated costs (such as a full time officer) are determined by that particular officer’s salary, benefits, etc. Centralized services and equipment items, such as employee payroll, are included as a cost per officer. Regardless of how costs are determined, they are fully transparent, so you know what you are getting for your dollar.

It's easily doable. And you keep your department.

There isn't much difference between your police department now, and your police department in partnership with the Sheriff's Office. We hope the primary difference would only be fewer headaches and less police cost. However, for specific information about how new partnerships work, and about transfers for existing commissioned and non-commissioned police employees, please see our New partnerships Q&A information.