King County executive proposes new budget that includes cuts to the sheriff’s office

VIDEO: King County executive proposes new budget that includes cuts to the Sheriff's Office

After thousands of protesters took to the streets in a summer of racial reckoning, King County Executive Dow Constantine is proposing a budget that includes cuts to the King County Sheriff’s Office.

“There’s unquestionably an awakening taking place today,” Constantine said. He was listening and is committed to change.

“Awakening to the reality that has been for the black and brown community in this country,” Constantine said.

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Constantine said he is committed to addressing social inequities as he unveiled his 2021-2022 proposed budget.

Among his budget proposals:

- Divesting $4.6 million in marijuana tax revenue from the King County Sheriff’s Office to community-based programs.

- Investing $2.8 million to help people vacate previous marijuana convictions.

- Divesting $1.9 million by limiting the jail population.

- Dedicating $6.2 million for a program called Restorative Community Pathways for juvenile offenders to receive help from community programs.

- Setting aside $2.7 million in diversion for nonviolent first-time offenders.

“We know the legal system involvement often leads to more problems, steeper barriers to higher hurdles off success,” Constantine said.

Activists have been calling for some of these reforms, which Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County states is a start.

“We’re grateful for steps proposed budget takes. It is a moral decision to begin taking steps to righting historic wrongs,” said Marlon Brown of BLM Seattle-King County.

“It’s an exciting moment. And we, I feel, a real need for us to act before this window closes,” said Constantine.

KIRO 7 reached out to the King County Sheriff’s Office. A spokesperson sent a statement that read:

“Since Executive Constantine did not speak with Sheriff Johanknecht about his plan for the Marijuana Revenue, Sheriff Johanknecht is trying to determine if this $4.6 million dollar reduction to the Sheriff’s Office revenue budget would force cuts to service to unincorporated King County. $4.6 million dollars equates to approximately 30, 911 patrol deputies, or an approximate 22% reduction in 911 service to unincorporated areas of King County.”