King County Executive Dow Constantine announced that he had selected Patti Cole-Tindall to the position of King County Sheriff. The King County Council will hold a hearing and confirmation process beginning May 18. A final vote is expected later in the month.
Cole-Tindall is an internal hire who began with the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) in 2015. However, she has served in other roles in the county including as the director of Labor Relations and interim director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO), a body meant to hold the KCSO to account.
She started her career at the KCSO as chief of the Technical Services Division and was promoted to undersheriff in 2020. Cole-Tindall began working as interim sheriff in January 2022.
In a press release, Constantine said that the county needs to “rethink and reimagine” how to accomplish the KCSO mission to “improve the quality of life and preserve public safety for the people of King County” and praised Cole-Tindall’s experience as a leader.
King County Councilmember Girmay Zahilay, who represents the South End and parts of unincorporated King County, said in the release that there has been a “difference in responsiveness, communication and collaboration” with the department since Cole-Tindall became interim sheriff.
She competed against Charles Kimble — the chief of police in Killeen, Texas — and Major Reginald Moorman of the Atlanta Police Department for the role.
If appointed, Cole-Tindall has some work to do before fully stepping into the role. She must recertify as a peace officer and will literally have to go back to school to complete the Basic Law Enforcement Academy. According to the county’s announcement, Cole-Tindall will have to finish the classes within a year of appointment, and she must begin no later than January 2023.
While she’s going through the 19-week course, which has undergone major revisions since she took it 30 years ago, an acting sheriff will take the reins of the office.
Cole-Tindall will be the first appointed sheriff since voters made it an elected position in 1996, changing the 1969 King County charter. Voters reversed course in 2020, approving a ballot measure that gave control of the position back to the executive and council.
Former Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht resigned in 2021 after an email surfaced in which she appeared to provide support to an officer who had shot and killed a young man in 2017. The email was sent hours after his family held a press conference announcing a settlement with the county over the shooting, according to the South Seattle Emerald.
Read more of the May 11-17, 2022 issue.