As your Sheriff, I am committed to continuing what we do well and improving what we must do better.
The Pierce County Sheriff's Department was underfunded before defunding became fashionable. Even with limited resources, we have been able to develop programs dealing with mental health, addiction, homelessness, and other issues. I believe it is time for more collaboration and partnerships between agencies to improve how we respond to people in crisis.
Here is my vision on the issues I am most asked about:
I have long been an advocate for body cameras. Recently the Pierce County Council has taken up the issue. There are challenges, including obstacles in funding and public disclosure rules. I will work with the council to overcome these obstacles and implement body cameras for our department.
Body cams will clear officers who play by the rules and help hold accountable those who do not.
We need to supplement not defund law enforcement. The challenges of mental health, homelessness, and substance abuse require more than a law enforcement response. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department has proven through our co-responders program with mental health professionals that a collaborative, fully-funded approach to public safety works best.
Police will always be the first to respond to crime scenes. Once people are stabilized and safe, other services are often needed. If you’re injured, you need a paramedic working on you, not a police officer. If you’re addicted, you need a substance abuse counselor, not a police officer. There should be co-responder social workers, substance abuse counselors, and homelessness resource specialists embedded within our department. In addition to helping those in need, this will free up police officers to focus on fighting crime.
PROTECTING THE VULNERABLE
Protecting the vulnerable is a top priority of mine. Senior citizens are too often the targets of property crime, fraud, and abuse. Many of the perpetrators are repeat offenders who simply need to be in prison serving long sentences for the safety of the community.
Children are similarly vulnerable and need protection. Also, like seniors, they are often victimized by repeat offenders who need to be in prison for long sentences. Nothing is more important than protecting our children.
HIRING MORE OFFICERS
We currently have 28 positions open. I will fill those positions quickly with qualified, diverse, public service minded candidates with good character who meet our high standards. I am also committed to recruiting high quality men and women who represent our diverse community.
People become police officers to do good, protect our citizens, and improve our communities. Many have lost their lives in this pursuit. There is an immense amount of good done by police officers here in Pierce County. In the Sheriff’s department, we will continue the good and correct the areas where we can do better.
Our people will protect rights, serve citizens, and bring a feeling of safety to our community. We will also work collaboratively with other agencies to improve public safety throughout the county.
The people of Washington passed this initiative to hold police accountable in the rare instances of unlawful shootings. To fulfill the requirements of I-940, I have identified and will appoint 3 members of the community immediately. I would also form an advisory board to support this initiative. I will include diverse representatives of the community.
As the leader of many nonprofits, foundations, and other charities, I have worked with civilian boards for more than 20 years. I understand the importance of diversity perspectives and how this assists the decision-making process and our ability to build trust in our community.
There is a difference between people who are homeless and those who live home free. People who commit crime and take advantage of others while living home free need to be held accountable. People who are homeless due to mental health, drugs, alcohol, or unfortunate circumstances, need all the services our society can provide.
Balancing accountability and empathy will improve lives, strengthen our community, and make us all safer.