County Council confirms law enforcement oversight chief

September 27, 2011

By Staff

County Council members appointed a former Los Angeles police investigator as King County’s inaugural law enforcement oversight chief Sept. 26.

In a unanimous decision, the council confirmed Charles Gaither as director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, a county agency established to monitor the King County Sheriff’s Office’s complaint and investigation process.

“Today’s appointment of Mr. Gaither is a major milestone toward realizing the important reform of implementing civilian oversight of the sheriff’s office,” Councilman Bob Ferguson — Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee chairman and sponsor of the appointment — said in a statement. “Mr. Gaither’s extensive experience will be invaluable to increasing transparency in the complaint process and further building public trust between law enforcement and the community.”

Ferguson and Councilwoman Julia Patterson led the effort to create the office. The independent agency is responsible for receiving complaints related to possible officer misconduct, monitoring the sheriff’s office internal investigations unit and more.

County Executive Dow Constantine appointed Gaither to the post in July, after a nationwide search. The position required council confirmation.

Gaither, a former Seattle resident and Seattle University School of Law alumnus, served as a special investigator for the Los Angeles Police Commission. In the role, he reviewed investigations involving officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths and law-enforcement-related injuries.

“I wish to thank the King County Council for entrusting me to head the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight and for assuring accountability of county policing,” he said in a statement. “As countless members of the community, the council and the sheriff’s office have labored for the formation of this office, I will work diligently to assure the public’s trust of law enforcement operations in King County.”

Sheriff Sue Rahr said the appointment completes a key recommendation of the Blue Ribbon Panel on Sheriff’s Office Accountability. The report, released in 2006, called for independent oversight of the sheriff’s office and reforms to the department’s culture.

“I am pleased that we have a great partner going forward in continuing to build trust, respect and open collaboration with the public we serve,” she said.

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