Popular King County Sheriff's Dept. spokesman stepping down

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KING5.com

Posted on September 21, 2011 at 5:46 PM

For 23 years he has served the people of King County as a Sheriff's deputy, but Sgt. John Urquhart has decided it's time to set the gun and badge aside.

"It's just time," he says. "I'm ready to go do something else."

What Urquhart has been doing for the past eleven years is acting as Public Information Officer -- the face of the King County Sheriff's Office.  Urquhart has handled huge cases like the Green River Killer. He was the calming voice of perspective during KING 5's day long coverage of the murders of those four Lakewood Police officers in 2009. But at heart, he's an ordinary beat cop who worked the streets for years.

Known for his no nonsense disposition, Urquhart's boss says there is a side to him the public doesn't know.

"He presents a tough exterior, but he probably has the biggest heart of anyone I know," says Sheriff Sue Rahr. "He feels what every cop feels. That's what makes him so good at what he does."

In media circles, Urquhart is known for always being fair, candid, and accessible. He's also famous for his press releases -- including a make believe "composite sketch" of a "robber" from Shoreline that was little more than a stick figure holding a knife and surrounded with flies.

"Police work is tough," says Urquhart.  "You have to have to maintain a sense of humor."

Urquhart says it's stuff like that that has kept him sane for so many years.

"Getting shot, that's the least of our worries as a cop. It's the mental health that you have to worry about."

Urquhart is now tending to that mental health full-time with the one luxury he and his wife of 36 years have afforded themselves -- a home in Hawaii. At 63 he's trading the gun and badge for a ukelele - planning to spend a lot more time in the sun -- and out of the spotlight.

"I'm certainly gonna take it easy for a while," he says with a smile. "Then, I could pop up somewhere. We'll have to wait and see, won't we?"

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