Seattle – Police are supposed to protect us and if they break the rules themselves face discipline for their misconduct. But KING 5 has learned an audit of the King County Sheriff’s Office found lax accountability at nearly every level.
Sources tell KING 5 the audit is “scathing.” It will be unveiled at a council committee hearing Tuesday.
The King County Auditor’s Office hired outside experts to help evaluate how well the Sheriff’s Office polices itself. Sources tell KING 5 they found serious lapses.
For example, when a deputy shoots someone, there’s supposed to be a review to determine whether the shooting was justified. But when auditors asked to see reviews for 5 shootings from 2011, 2 of them fatal, those reviews didn’t exist. No one ever did them.
Auditors also found fault with the handling of citizen complaints. Sources say in 2011, some 100 complaints were routed away from headquarters to the precincts, where they languished. The Internal Investigations Unit, which should have handled them, was crippled by staffing cuts and was also shut out of the process.
Computer systems set up to track complaints and deputy misconduct were found to be ineffective because some supervisors failed to enter key information.
The Sheriff’s Office wouldn’t comment until after the audit is presented to a King County Council committee Tuesday.