Sheriff Sue Rahr of Seatle’s King County will form a blue-ribbon commission to review the system of internal investigations and officer discipline in her agency, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “I want to assure the citizens of King County that deputies that cross the line will be dealt with and disciplined appropriately,” Rahr said. The announcement came after revelations about department disciplinary problems in an ongoing Post Intelligencer special report, “Conduct Unbecoming.”
Over several months, the P-I report has reported several cases of deputy misconduct for which discipline was light or non-existent. In several cases, deputies who faced prosecution or had been convicted of crimes were allowed to retire rather than be fired. The newspaper also found evidence of a weak internal disciplinary system and a pervasive insider network that suppresses complaints. Several whistle-blowers lost their jobs while the officers they accused faced little or no discipline. The newspaper reports have prompted two ongoing FBI investigations. The six-member blue-ribbon commission is expected to be formed within two weeks. Rahr has not gone so far as to say she intends to institute civilian oversight in her department. Her “100 Day Plan” — an action plan the first-term sheriff e-mailed department-wide Dec. 30, the day of the latest story in the Post-Intelligencer’s report — called for re-instituting employee performance evaluations and establishing an internal Inspections Bureau, among other remedies.