King County Sheriff Steve Strachan was rated “outstanding” by the nonpartisan Municipal League of King County during its review of candidates for the 2012 elections. We agree.
Strachan impresses people with his experience, maturity and open, transparent leadership style. He was chief of police in Kent before he was brought into the department in 2011 by then-Sheriff Sue Rahr.
When Rahr announced this spring she was leaving her post to lead the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, she named her chief deputy as interim sheriff. The Metropolitan King County Council appointed Strachan sheriff in April.
He must stand for election to finish Rahr’s term, which runs through 2013. He is opposed by John Urquhart, who retired from the department last September. Urquhart was the department’s long-serving spokesman.
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His media-relations skills were impressive, but the department’s needs are deeper than able messaging.
Strachan previously was a chief of police in Minnesota, served on a city council and in the Minnesota Legislature. He will draw on all that experience to address the elements of a highly critical review of the sheriff’s office issued in July by the King County Auditor’s Office.
Auditors found “significant issues” with policies for investigating citizen complaints, and “significant challenges” in implementing the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, which was to provide independent accountability.
Sixteen audit recommendations were noted, and the department started to implement them, according to the report.
The sheriff has serious management, oversight and policy issues to reform inside the department, and must navigate all the legal and labor challenges. The department also has budget issues, and overtime spending that must be reined in.
Strachan not only has the necessary skills, but also experience outside the department to inform his approaches.
Give Sheriff Steve Strachan the opportunity to correct serious problems. Voters will be able to check his progress and rate his performance next year.