Councilmember: King County Sheriff's Office halted access to LInX without notice

SEATTLE — Last week without warning, King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht eliminated access to LInX, a national database that local, state, and national law enforcement agencies use to share information.

A King County employee confirms the decision was made before consulting the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office to confirm that LInX is in violation of any King County ordinances. The King County Council was also not consulted beforehand.

Sheriff Johanknecht sent a letter afterwards to King County Coucilmember Rod Dembowski informing him of her decision to terminate access because she believed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) could use the information to deport undocumented immigrants, which she stated was a violation of county ordinances.

"Since there is no effective way to ensure ICE will not access our information for immigration purposes, I feel this action is the only option available to me to ensure compliance with King County Code," Johanknecht wrote in the letter.

Dembowski released the following statement on Friday:

"The Council is working with the Sheriff to better understand the reasons for her decision to terminate access to the LinX database, which was made without consultation with or advance notice to the Council. Upon review of the LinX "Memorandum of Understanding" among database participants, and initial discussions with the Sheriff's office and legal counsel, I don't believe the action taken by the Sheriff was required by the ordinance. I hope that the Sheriff will restore access for our deputies to the LinX database promptly."

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The King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office would not confirm whether Johanknecht had consulted with their office before access to LInX was stopped.

The move, that Johanknecht warned Dembowski would negatively impact her agency's ability to conduct investigations, was intended to be temporary, as reported by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

The sheriff's office is now trying to return access to LInX as soon as next week, according to a source.