King County workers raise concerns over sex offender office



Bio | Email | Follow: @cjingalls

Posted on December 6, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 6 at 8:00 PM

SEATTLE -- There’s one place in downtown Seattle where you are sure to find a steady flow of sex offenders, and King County employees who work in the building aren’t happy about it.

Six months after the King County Sheriff moved his sex offender registration office to the second floor of the  King County Administration Building, employees say they still don’t feel safe.

“There are places in the building that are kind of isolated.  It’s a little worrisome,” said county employee Deborah Kennedy.  Even though she doesn’t work in the administration building, she says many employees have concerns about the 400 or so homeless sex offenders that are required to check in at the office each week.

Teamsters local 117 has raised the issue with county leadership on behalf of the 300 or so unionized employees that work in the administration building at 500 4th Avenue.  But union officials say the county has done little to address those concerns.

In June, the Sheriff’s Office moved the sex offender registration office out of the King County Courthouse.  For years, sex offenders had to pass through metal detectors and register at an office right near the courthouse entrance that had armed deputies outside.

Sheriff John Urquhart says the hallway was too congested and the little used office on the north side of the county administration building was a better place to get sex offenders in and out quickly.

“I don’t think there’s any danger whatsoever, if that’s what they’re worried about,” said Sheriff Urquhart.  “This is a relatively unused entrance to the administration building.  There are two other entrances.”

Urquhart said there have been no problems at the new location and county officials have held meetings with concerned employees.

However, the union said some workers remain fearful. 

“(I) don’t feel safe alone in the elevator,” said one employee in an email written to the union.

Level 2 sex offender Foai Tautolo said workers have nothing to fear, after he had just checked in at the county building.

“Some of us, we’re not bad.  We just made wrong mistakes, you know. Some of us, just don’t look at us like that,” said Tautolo.