Sheriff’s Office rebalancing deputies to
upsize patrols; suspends K-9s, social workers
SNOHOMISH COUNTY — A manpower deficit is prompting the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office to suspend its K-9 units, Office of Neighborhoods social worker program and others to reassign these deputies to patrol beats, Sheriff Adam Fortney announced Monday, June 6. The move comes hand-in-hand with increased violence against deputies while on patrol, the sheriff said.
The gaps have endangered deputies: During May and June, deputies had to issue four “help the officer” calls, and backup wasn’t able to arrive fast enough, Fortney described. In the most recent incident, a deputy was heavily assaulted and couldn’t reach a radio. This one sealed the decision “that we needed to make drastic changes to our patrol staffing in order to do everything we can to safely respond to 911 calls, protect our community, and make sure our deputies make it home to their families at night,” Fortney wrote. ”We have tried incremental and less impactful staffing changes along the way, but it is simply not working. Our response times to get adequate resources on scene for what could be a life-or-death incident is taking far too long due to our patrol crews being understaffed in a county of our size.”
The changes become effective in mid-June, Fortney said.
“Everyone currently working these units is being reassigned to a patrol crew to fill current vacancies. I want to be clear that I believe in everything these specialty units are doing for our community, but at this time we need them to help stabilize our patrol division and ensure safety remains our top priority,” Fortney wrote. “This does not mean we have given up on these units, it simply means that for the foreseeable future (6-12 months) they will be working full time patrol beats and responding to 911 calls for service. If our staffing situation dramatically improves, we could reestablish these specialty units sooner.”
The message was released through the Sheriff’s Office’s social media pages.
“As your Sheriff, my top priority is public safety in Snohomish County and I will continue to do everything possible to ensure our deputies are given the resources they need to safely serve and protect our community,” Fortney wrote.
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