Executive appoints county law enforcement oversight chief

July 26, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine appointed a manager of internal investigations and performance audits for the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners as the inaugural county law enforcement oversight chief.

Charles Gaither is the designated leader for the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, a county agency established to monitor the King County Sheriff’s Office’s complaint and investigation process.

Constantine announced the appointment July 11, after a nationwide search.

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King County requires life vests on major rivers

June 28, 2011

Summer is prime time for river recreation in King County, as people seek to beat the heat in boats, canoes, kayaks, inner tubes and more.

Just before summer started, King County Council members adopted legislation June 20 to require personal flotation devices on major King County rivers starting July 1. The life-vest requirement is due to expire Oct. 31.

The measure requires people to wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device on portions of the Raging, Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, Skykomish and White rivers in unincorporated areas.

The initial infraction carries only a warning. However, subsequent violations carry $86 fines. Enforcement is the responsibility of the King County Sheriff’s Office.

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King County requires life vests on major rivers

June 20, 2011

NEW — 6 p.m. June 20, 2011

Summer starts Tuesday — and the season is prime time for river recreation, as people seek to beat the heat in boats, canoes, kayaks, inner tubes and more.

King County Council members adopted legislation Monday to require personal flotation devices on major King County rivers throughout the summer. The requirement is due to expire in October.

The measure requires people to wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device on portions of the Raging, Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, Skyhomish and White rivers in unincorporated areas.

The penalty is a warning for first-time violators; subsequent violators face $86 fines.

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Eastside Fire & Rescue backs life vest requirement

June 14, 2011

Eastside Fire & Rescue leaders offered support last week for a King County measure to require boaters and swimmers to wear life vests on major rivers.

The proposal calls for the King County Sheriff’s Office to enforce wearing a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device on portions of the Raging, Snoqualmie, Tolt, Cedar, Green, Skyhomish and White rivers in unincorporated areas. For first-time violators, the penalty is a warning, but subsequent violators could face fines of up to $86.

If the council approves, the proposed ordinance is due to last through the summer recreation season until Oct. 31.

EFR Deputy Chief Jeff Griffin said the bill is designed to address higher-than-normal river levels. The agency’s service area encompasses large unincorporated areas, including Preston and much of the Snoqualmie Valley.

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King County could require life vests on rivers

June 4, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 4, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine, backed by public and health officials and organizations, has called for a summerlong requirement for life vests on major rivers in unincorporated areas.

The tumultuous winter flood season changed river channels and reoriented logs, creating a challenge for boaters and swimmers. The snowpack in some Cascade river basins is about 200 percent of normal. The substantial snowpack could mean higher-than-normal river flows well into the summer recreational season.

“This proposal will help save lives,” Constantine said in a statement. “River flows are unusually swift and cold this year due to a heavy mountain snowpack that is melting into King County rivers. Rivers are inherently dangerous places to play, but this year is bringing additional risks. The wearing of life jackets is as essential for swimmers and boaters as helmets for cyclists and seat belts for drivers.”

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Meet the finalists for law enforcement oversight post

May 30, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. May 30, 2011

The search committee appointed to select candidates to direct King County’s new Office of Law Enforcement Oversight is holding a public hearing so residents can meet the potential candidates as the committee interviews finalists.

The hearing is 6 p.m. Thursday in the County Council Chambers, 10th Floor, King County Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle. Or, watch the meeting live on King County TV, Channel 22 on Comcast and Broadstripe.

The county established the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight to ensure the integrity of the King County Sheriff’s Office complaint and investigation process, including the resolution of complaints. The independent agency is part of the legislative branch of county government.

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Memorial Day weekend serves a water safety reminder

May 28, 2011

NEW — 8 a.m. May 28, 2011

Rivers make for inherently dangerous places to play — especially in the springtime as water flows high, swift and cold.

King County public safety officials and emergency responders stand on extra alert for spring and summer, because unusually heavy amounts of mountain snow is melting into local rivers. In addition, a tumultuous winter flood season changed river channels and reoriented logs.

The conditions create a recipe for river recreation tragedy.

“King County rivers are running fast and cold and are always extremely dangerous this time of year,” King County Sheriff Sue Rahr said in a statement. “But 2011 could bring even higher risks. We want to get the word out ahead of the Memorial Day weekend and before the next hot weather forecast that people should stay out of the rivers at this time.”

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Muni League honors transit group, councilman

February 1, 2011

King County Executive Dow Constantine congratulated Issaquah Councilman Fred Butler and other members of a transit task force last week for receiving a prestigious honor from the Municipal League of King County.

The recommendations from the 28-member Regional Transit Task Force represent a potential roadmap to long-standing differences related to Metro Transit bus service. The group released the report to county leaders in November.

The group has received the James R. Ellis Regional Leadership Award for the effort, the Municipal League announced Jan. 27.

“We asked 28 local leaders to set aside arbitrary political divisions and come up with transit recommendations that meet the needs of the entire county, and they exceeded all expectations,” Constantine said in a statement. “That takes real leadership, and I’m pleased to see their hard work and vision recognized by the Municipal League.”

The award honors individuals and organizations for contributing significant leadership in tackling regional public policy problems. The league recognized task force members for efforts “to clarify and organize the priorities and implementation processes for local transit during a time of budget reductions.”

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Sheriff: Cuts should not slow 911 response

November 23, 2010

Deputies could be trained to investigate property crimes

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr lamented upcoming cuts to police service in unincorporated areas, but said emergency response should not be affected for rural residents.

King County Council members decided Nov. 15 to eliminate 28 deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, close police storefronts, and eliminate school resource officers from Liberty High School and other campuses. The storefront in the Four Creeks Unincorporated Area between Issaquah and Renton is due to close under the plan.

“In light of these reductions, my first priority for the sheriff’s office is to maintain emergency response,” Rahr said in prepared remarks delivered Nov. 18 at the King County Courthouse. “If you call 911 in 2011, it will not take longer for a sheriff’s deputy to arrive. If you need to be rescued from a flooding river or have a hiking accident, we will still have a team to respond.”

The budget also reduced resources to investigate property crimes. Under the budget, the number of property crimes investigators is to be reduced from 16 to two. Rahr said the office has a proposal to continue investigations of burglaries and other property crimes.

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King County sheriff decries cuts to rural police service

November 18, 2010

NEW — 3 p.m. Nov. 18, 2010

King County Sheriff Sue Rahr lamented the upcoming cuts to police service in rural areas, including the closure of a police storefront near Issaquah and reduced resources to investigate property crimes.

King County Council members decided Monday to eliminate 28 deputies from the King County Sheriff’s Office, close police storefronts, and eliminate school resource officers from Liberty High School and other campuses.

“All the cuts in police services were difficult,” Rahr said in prepared remarks delivered Thursday at the King County Courthouse. “All the cuts will mean a hardship for the 305,000 citizens living in unincorporated King County, especially if they are victims of a crime. I wish none of the cuts were made.”

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