King County will have a new, temporary sheriff starting Jan. 1 when the sheriff’s office, for the first time in nearly 30 years, falls back under the authority of the county executive.
The new sheriff will be Patti Cole-Tindall, who is currently second-in-command at the sheriff’s office. King County Executive Dow Constantine announced Cole-Tindall’s appointment on Tuesday.
“Patti’s background and experience in the Sheriff’s Office and across county government — working with labor, serving her community and demonstrating integrity and transparency — make her uniquely qualified to step into this interim role,” Constantine said in a news release.
Cole-Tindall’s stint as sheriff will be temporary because the county will be searching for a long-term hire starting next year and she has already said she does not want the position. Voters in 2020 passed a county charter amendment that once again made the sheriff position an appointed one, rather than an elected one.
The term of current Sheriff Mitzi Johanknech, who was elected in 2017, expires at the end of this year. Johanknecht and Constantine have repeatedly clashed over budget issues and high-profile police shootings, which might explain Constantine’s decision to not only keep her on board permanently, but also appoint someone else to lead the department temporarily while the county searches for her replacement.
Whoever Constantine picks as sheriff will need to be approved by the Metropolitan King County Council.
Cole-Tindall, 57, lives in Kent and has been with the sheriff’s department for about six years. She’s spent the last year and a half as the undersheriff.
“I am honored to serve as the Interim Sheriff, and will be working closely with my management teams to support and lead the people of the [sheriff’s office] until the new Sheriff is appointed,” Cole-Tindall said in the release. “During this transition, my mission is clear: support our workforce, ensure a smooth transition and listen to the communities we serve as we reimagine law enforcement in King County.”
She will be the first person of color to serve as sheriff in the state’s largest county.
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Alongside Cole-Tindall’s appointment, Constantine announced a slew of new measures meant to help the department retain current employees while also filling about 60 vacant positions.
Under the proposals, sheriff’s deputies working for other counties who come to work in King County will receive a $15,000 hiring bonus, and new deputy hires will receive a bonus of $7,000. Additionally, all commissioned employees who are still working for the office on Jan. 1 of next year will receive a one-time bonus of $4,000, and employees who refer candidates that are eventually hired as deputies will receive a referral bonus of $5,000.
In the release, Constantine said those proposals will soon be sent to the King County Council for approval.