The Seattle PI today reports that Sheriff-turned-Congressman Dave Reichert has finally broken his long silence over the problems uncovered in the King County Sheriff’s Office.
And now, as you might expect from a man of his integrity and credibility, Reichert has taken full responsibility for the failings in the Sheriff’s office under his leadership.
Just kidding! I mean you didn’t really expect that, did you? He is up for reelection, you know. No, Reichert did the right thing here…he found someone else to blame:
“Many of the issues the [Blue Ribbon investigation panel] identifies are issues that I worked to solve when I was sheriff and it is gratifying that many of their proposed solutions echo those that both I and Sheriff (Sue) Rahr have put forward,” Reichert said.
Reichert’s statement said some of his own efforts to improve officer supervision and oversight were stymied by a lack of support from other county officials. In particular, Reichert mentioned King County Executive Ron Sims.
“I worked as sheriff to address these issues and others but was often prohibited from doing so by successive years of $1 million to $2 million budget cuts,” Reichert said. “I repeatedly expressed to the county executive the need for an increased budget to effectively implement oversight of the behavior of the organization, to ensure policies and procedures are complied with and to create an ongoing auditing process in the Sheriff’s Office.”
Uh-huh…so it was Ron Sims’ fault!
Well…kind-of. You see the budget for the Sheriff’s Office increased every year from 2000 to 2004.
A spokesman for Sims said Friday that, other than a request for six more sergeants in 2001, the executive’s office could not find any requests by Reichert for the funding the statement described.
“We don’t have evidence of that,” Sims spokeswoman Carolyn Duncan said.
Duncan added that the Sheriff’s Office budget consistently has fared better than budgets of other departments over the past several years. Since 2000, the sheriff’s budget has grown by $32 million.
“The bottom line was, their budget has increased every year when other departments were taking cuts,” Duncan said.
The PI cites budget figures from 2000 to 2004 as $84.8, $95, $99, $101, and $106.7 million. In fact, in 2001 the Sheriff’s Office under-spent its budget by nearly $1.5 million.
So…it hardly seems that the underlying problems could really be about money. The series of articles published by the Seattle P-I documented problems with morale, discipline, and officer misconduct—the kinds of things that money affects only superficially in the hands of a real leader; so, maybe we can still pin this on Ron Sims….
The P-I‘s series led to the formation of the blue-ribbon panel, which issued its final report Monday. That report described multiple “longstanding” problems with officer supervision and oversight. It detailed 43 findings, six major recommendations and 36 other suggestions the panel said need to be implemented to repair a broken officer accountability system.
Though it did not single out any past administrations, the panel specifically noted among its recommendations that employee performance evaluations, which were eliminated under Reichert, should be reinstituted.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, so, how would eliminating employee performance evaluations cause accountability and morale problems? I mean, isn’t it simpler to just say that it was Ron Sims’ fault? After all, Reichert can show how he was instrumental in changing the culture in the Sheriff’s Office…
In his statement, Reichert also noted his administration “established the core values of the Sheriff Office, leadership, integrity, service and teamwork.”
Former County Executive Randy Revelle, who served as chairman of the blue-ribbon panel, said just having such core values isn’t enough: “It’s one thing to have them posted on a wall. But the real test is, are they guiding and influencing the character of your employees? We didn’t get the impression they were.”
But, but, but, it was Reichert who got the policy down on paper, put up the posters, and made sure everyone got the memo…see? So it must have been Ron Sims’ fault that things didn’t “take”…right?
It sounds like the only thing missing was…you know…that leadership thing.
So…um…I hope you will join Dave Reichert and me in pointing out the obvious implication: the lack of leadership in the King County Sheriff’s office was Ron Sims’ fault!