King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall talks priorities for her department

KING COUNTY, Wash. — When it comes to keeping King County safe and dealing with issues such as increased crime, King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall talked to KIRO 7 about some of the challenges her department is facing.

When asked what her number one priority is, Cole-Tindall said that it is hard to narrow it down, but staffing is a concern for the sheriff’s department. She said there are 106 deputy positions that need to be filled, as well as more than 60 professional staffing roles.

“I’ve got to get these positions filled,” Cole-Tindall said.

She said police presence makes a difference and by having those positions filled, there’s more of an officer presence on the street. Her hope is to take some pressure off of the current officers, as they would not have to work so much overtime, which impacts wellness.

When asked about fentanyl use on public transportation, Cole-Tindall responded by saying Metro deputies have been working to prevent people from using on buses and other transit systems, and that deputies do respond to calls.

“Obviously, our officers are well-trained, de-escalation is number one and key. We want to keep the other people on the bus safe, and the driver as well. So we will respond and we will remove people from buses,” Cole-Tindall said.

While many think removing people from buses doesn’t happen, Cole-Tindall asserts that it does, but an appropriate reason to do so is needed.

She was also asked when she thinks body cameras will be instituted in the department, saying that things look optimistic, but an agreement must be reached with its labor union, the King County Police Officers Guild. She thinks the department will get the cameras in the next month or so.

“We could start implementing our body cam program as early as first quarter 2023. We will roll it out one precinct at a time. We have found from others that that is more successful to do it precinct by precinct rather than a big bang, and so I anticipate no later than first quarter 2025 we would be completed,” Cole-Tindal explained to KIRO 7.

To hear more of her interview, watch the video above.

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