King County Executive outlines public safety budget

KING COUNTY, Wash. — With people concerned about crime and law enforcement under scrutiny, King County Executive Dow Constantine Monday detailed how he plans to fund public safety.

“Our communities need and expect, and indeed deserve genuine and just public safety,” Constantine said.

King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said despite 50 new hires this year, the office is still down 110 deputies from 2020.

Constantine’s two-year budget calls for 70 new deputies, 100 correctional officers and 30 juvenile detention officers.

Months after KIRO 7 investigated fentanyl use on King County Metro buses, Constantine said he’s planning to spend $20 million to hire 50 more transit security officers and $5 million for proactive work to help people in crisis.

Constantine’s budget includes spending on gun violence prevention, new community-based programs for nonviolent youth offenders, and a new focus on the underlying health and housing needs of 80 people who are frequently arrested.

County officials are also budgeting for sheriff’s deputies to get body cameras, although the rollout might not be done until the end of 2025.

Cole-Tindall said the system needs to be built to manage the video footage and the deputies’ union still needs to sign off on it.

“I think the time is right for cameras because our deputies actually want them, the community expects it to happen, that accountability and transparency piece. It’s happening now, so I think that’s the important thing,” Cole-Tindall said.