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Urquhart announces bid for King County sheriff
Former King County Sheriff's Office spokesman Sgt. John Urquhart announced his plans to run for sheriff at a press conference April 24.
Urquhart, who has 36 years of law enforcement under his belt, said he felt it was the right time to throw his hat into the ring.
"It was not a decision made lightly, but made after careful consideration, and with input from a variety of individuals both inside and outside of the sheriff's office, as well as my family," he said.
Urquhart directed his announcement at two groups: the citizens of King County, and the approximately 700 deputies in the sheriff's office. For the citizens, Urquhart said he would work on making the sheriff's office a part of the community again, instead of it's watchdogs.
"The sheriff's office is at a crossroads. I don't want us to go down the road where we run the risk of losing the support of the citizens we serve. If we go down that wrong road, it will not be because our deputies don't care. It will be because of a lack of leadership within the agency. The citizens of King County want many things from their sheriff's office. They want a police agency that is tough on crime, but understands you can't arrest your way out of every problem in society."
"They do not want a police agency that has the attitude of 'We're cops and you're not,'" he added.
Urquhart touched on issues of accountability to the citizens of King County, saying he plans to implement four changes if he wins the office. Those changes include: Re-staffing the Internal Investigations Unit to full. Reforming the way complaints filed by citizens against the Sheriff's Office are handled. A timelier review of officer involved shootings, with Urquhart noting there were four in 2011, two of which were fatal. The creation of a Use of Force Review Board, aimed at focusing on incidents where either citizens or officers are seriously injured.
"Make no mistake. Use of force is unavoidable in police work. But there are questions we should be asking. Could we have done something else? Could we have de-escalated? Was the amount of force appropriate? These critical questions are not being asked in a systematic way," he said.
Urquhart said he will roll out more ideas for reform regarding the sheriff's office as election day nears. He did mention that another focus, outside of the reforms listed above, would be looking at reform for drug laws, specifically as it relates to the use of possession and sale of marijuana.
The veteran police officer closed out his announcement with some political stumping, saying under his leadership, he plans to have the Sheriff's Office thrive, and its reputation restored among the community.
"Under my leadership, we till take the other road, where the Sheriff's office is one of the most highly respected police agencies in the region. Where our deputies are the best trained, the most responsive, and where the values of the community are reflected in our actions every day. Where use of force by a deputy is the last resort, not the first. Where every aspiring police officer chooses the Sheriff's office first, because we are the best," he said.