The King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) was made aware of community concerns over a recent decision issued by the King County Sheriff’s Office. In a letter, Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht issued her final disciplinary decision resulting from an internal investigation of Capt. Todd Miller. He received a one-day suspension. The decision was issued approximately a month after another King County detective was terminated for conduct unbecoming related to posts on social media.
“OLEO has heard the concerns a family member and in the community that the discrepancies in the outcomes of two recent misconduct investigations into offensive social media posts demonstrated racial bias and conduct incompatible with the professional duties of the Sheriff’s position,” said OLEO Interim Director Adrienne Wat.
The current collective bargaining agreement provides OLEO with the ability to conduct oversight-related professional conduct of individuals at any level of the Sheriff’s Office, and OLEO will seek to learn more from those who voiced their concerns today before deciding its course of action. OLEO’s overarching mandate includes working to address community concerns and help the Sheriff’s Office identify and advance policies and practices focused on improving operations, accountability, and increasing public trust and confidence in the professionalism of the KCSO.
“It’s appropriate to expect law enforcement agencies [to] create a culture that builds trust and belief in their legitimacy and commitment to fair, equitable, and just policing,” Wat said. “That said, OLEO must always be unbiased and objective in our practice to ensure our work is fair and thorough before reaching a conclusion.”
Miller faced allegations of misconduct for posting an offensive and racist statement on Facebook after reposting an article about black teens. Out of three allegations against Miller, the Sheriff sustained two, finding Miller’s post violated the department’s “conduct unbecoming” and social media policies. Miller received a one-day suspension for comments against black teens whereas King County Detective Mike Brown was fired for his comments.
OLEO previously requested a discussion with Sheriff Johanknecht about community-voiced frustration related to the KCSO’s organizational culture and has since discussed training in systemic racism and the history of policing. OLEO also relayed concerns to the KCSO about the differing outcomes in investigations – noting that steps to explore a discipline matrix would increase transparency for KCSO employees and the public.
The above is a press release from the King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight. The Auburn Examiner has not independently verified its contents and encourages our readers to personally verify any information they find may be overly biased or questionable. The publication of this press release does not indicate an endorsement of its content.