News

New sheriff back in town

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

Sue Rahr started her career with the King County Sheriff Department in Federal Way.

She was a law student who ran out of tuition money and became a deputy with the intent of going back to law school after putting some bucks away. Working at the precinct in Federal Way back before cityhood, she learned being in the patrol car was more interesting and fun than the law library.

Now Rahr is the sheriff of the county, having been appointed Jan. 17 by the County Council to replace Dave Reichert after he was elected last year to Congress.

Rahr and Councilman Pete Von Reichbauer met with about 30 residents from Federal Way and unincorporated county areas Monday night at Thomas Jefferson High School. The sheriff is meeting with citizens at several sites around the county to hear from them and let them get a chance to meet her.

Rahr, the county's first female sheriff, heads the second-largest local law enforcement organization in the state, with 800 commissioned officers and more than 1,000 employees.

As the county's only elected law enforcement leader, Rahr said her position is unique and a responsibility she takes seriously.

"The only people I answer to are the people of King County," she said.

She will serve the remainder of Reichert's term and is set to run for election in November.

Several citizens at Monday's meeting asked the sheriff for help with speeding on their streets, vandalism and crime in their neighborhoods. One neighborhood had about five homeowners seeking assistance. After hearing their stories of vandalism and theft, including vehicles being stolen, Rahr assured them she would have deputies contact them to help stop the criminal activity.

Rahr said such meetings are her chance to hear directly from citizens their concerns and answer questions. She also offered advice on how residents can help themselves and the deputies who are stretched thin across the county. She encouraged people to make themselves known in their neighborhoods to people they think are suspicious.

Rahr said she doesn't show her badge in her neighborhood when she sees someone out of place. Simply writing down the license plate of their car is enough to make them move on, she said.

Neighborhoods shouldn't become anonymous areas where people don't know each other and what's going on. Otherwise information about problems doesn't get passed around, Rahr said.

While Rahr's name isn't as well-known as her predecessor's, she has been with the Sheriff Department almost as long. She started as a patrol officer in the mid-1970s and has worked in several units, including gang activity, internal investigations and sex crimes.

"I know law enforcement from the ground up," Rahr said.

She said some of her goals are having the communities' trust and confidence in the department.

She also wants to take advantage of technology to assist investigations and connect with other police agencies. There is a new program that will link agencies so criminals can be tracked across jurisdictions. However, Rahr told the audience Monday that while Federal Way Police and the Sheriff Department have a good working relationship –– she said she and police chief Anne Kirkpatrick are friends –– the agencies use separate reporting systems, and one might not know immediately if another has had encounters with specific suspects.

The meeting, preceded by an invitation-only reception for Rahr at a nearby restaurant, was coordinated by von Reichbauer, whose district includes Federal Way.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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