The Metropolitan King County Council on Tuesday unanimously approved Patti Cole-Tindall to be the county’s next sheriff.
King County Executive Dow Constantine earlier this month chose Cole-Tindall, who has been serving as interim sheriff since Jan. 1, for the permanent position.
Cole-Tindall has served in the sheriff’s department, most recently as second in command, for more than six years, but she drew praise as an unorthodox candidate who, in her interim role, has improved communication and raised morale in the department.
When Constantine tabbed her as interim sheriff in November, she pledged not to seek the full-time job, saying it would be a distraction from the work she needed to do.
But she says she changed her mind after receiving “many, many requests” from department employees who thought “the sheriff’s office was turning around to be an agency that they wanted to be part of.”
Cole-Tindall, 57, is the first appointed sheriff in more than 25 years, after county voters, in 2020, chose to switch the position from elected to appointed. Her confirmation Tuesday was all but perfunctory, with little discussion among council members. Several had already voiced their endorsement after Constantine announced her as the choice.
“She has built trust and rapport with the rank and file and also comes to this position with a very unique background,” Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles said Tuesday.
“We have a really unique set of skills and experiences in our new sheriff that are going to prove very important,” Council Chair Claudia Balducci said.
Cole-Tindall will be ceremonially sworn in June 17.
Cole-Tindall has a long career in public service, but most of it has been outside traditional law enforcement.
Cole-Tindall began her career in law enforcement in 1991 as a special agent with the Washington State Gambling Commission, a position for which she carried a gun and completed the state’s basic law enforcement academy. She moved to the state Employment Security Department, where she worked on investigations into fraud and theft of unemployment benefits.
She moved to King County government in 1998, working as an investigator in the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention. She was later an assistant director in the department’s Community Corrections Division.
Constantine tabbed her in 2010 as the county’s director of labor relations, responsible for representing the county in collective bargaining. She was interim director of the county’s Office of Law Enforcement Oversight in 2014.
Because so much time passed between her stints in law enforcement, nearly two decades, Cole-Tindall is no longer a certified law enforcement officer. She will have to enroll in and recomplete Washington’s 19-week basic law enforcement academy. She’ll have to start by January 2023 and has said she would appoint somebody to serve as acting sheriff while she’s in the academy.