The leaders of King County’s three largest law enforcement unions promised Wednesday to reveal a “direct course of action” to address public safety but offered few specifics during a news conference that amounted to a hearty show of support for Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell in his run for prosecuting attorney.
A news release announcing the event made no mention of the candidate, who commanded more time in front of the microphone than any of the guild leaders, criticizing the current prosecuting attorney, Dan Satterberg, without naming him and making claims that Satterberg’s office said are inaccurate and misleading.
Seattle Police Officers Guild President Mike Solan said the news conference was intended to “inform you of a dire situation” within the Seattle Police Department, which has struggled with staffing, an increase in violent crime and growing response times to emergencies.
He was joined by King County Police Officers Guild President Mike “Manny” Mansanarez and Dennis Folk, the president of the King County Corrections Guild. All three organizations have already endorsed Ferrell in his run for prosecuting attorney.
Solan called the three-guild coalition “historic” and said it was aimed at “engaging with the reasonable communities across our region” to explain the dire situation facing law enforcement and “remove politics out of public safety.”
He then introduced Ferrell, who sharply criticized Satterberg’s office over the backlog of nearly 5,000 felony cases that has accumulated in the wake of court closures brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Ferrell said the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office has “no discernible plan” to address the issue, which he called a “failure of justice” and “a failure to serve” crime victims and their families.
“The prosecutor’s office is really the hinge point in the entire system, and we’ve had a breakdown in how we are handling these cases,” Ferrell said.
Ferrell suggested forming a “specialized unit” within the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office that would triage those cases and prioritize them by severity. He also said the prosecuting attorney should be working with county officials to add temporary judges — something he said the current office has not done.
Satterberg’s office on Wednesday provided a memo, however, showing it has repeatedly discussed with the King County Superior Court a plan to return some retired judges to the bench, as well as a document showing the office sought and received county funding to address the backlog.
Ferrell’s opponent in the race, Senior Deputy
Prosecutor Leesa Manion, accused Ferrell of “relying on the same sound bites and scare tactics” she said has marked his campaign so far.
Manion, who’s also Satterberg’s chief of staff, has criticized Ferrell’s decision to seek and accept the support of Solan — a controversial figure as president of SPOG and host of conservative law enforcement podcast “Hold the Line.”
“Solan … has dismissed the dire significance of the Jan. 6 insurrection” at the U.S. Capitol “and continues to fight efforts to reveal the names of the six SPOG members who participated in the attack on our democracy,” Manion said in a statement.
“A truly independent prosecutor, committed to equal representation and safety, would not accept support from someone fighting transparency and justice,” Manion said.
Satterberg announced in January that he would not seek a fifth four-year term. Voters will choose the county’s next prosecuting attorney during the November general election.