King County Sheriff’s Office posts use-of-force data

SEATTLE — At a time when the community is demanding police accountability and transparency, the King County Sheriff’s Office is posting use-of-force data online.

The King County Sheriff’s Office released a use-of-force dashboard with six years worth of incident data. It is information the sheriff’s office had, but was unable to search. Now they can search it and find trends and problems and the public can access and analyze the data too.

The computer program has been in the works for more than two years.

“So the use- of- force dashboard allows us to have a close to real-time grasp on what types of use of force are happening with our deputies, how often they’re using it, who is using it at what rate,” explained Chief Troy Olmstead, chief of the criminal investigations division at the King County Sheriff’s Office. “I think it is potentially helpful in this time right now wher e police and use of force and other issues are under a microscope and we’re saying ‘Here you are, here’s the information’.”

The data includes use of force, type of arrest, geographical area, time of day and gender and race.

The sheriff’s office will use it to identify if deputies are using too much force, improve training, and change tactics for the types of arrests that seem to use the most force, like probation violations and disorderly conduct.

It is the type of transparency, along with adding body cameras, many believe is necessary to restore faith in the department.

Last month the sheriff’s office settled with the family of 17-year-old Mi’Chance Dunlap Gittens for $2.25 million. The teen was shot in the back of the head in a botched sting operation in Des Moines in January 2017.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht apologized to the teen’s family. Today she spoke at the King County Council Law and Justice Committee meeting.

“I myself and the members of my organization are appalled by what happened in Minneapolis and remain appalled when members of law enforcement take actions that are illegal,” said Sheriff Johanknecht. " I apologize to the communities and families of color who have had to go through this in their lifetime. As you may know, recently I had the chance in person, via Zoom, to talk to Mr. Gittens and Ms. Dunlap and express my apologies to them over the loss of their son."