File photo of KCSO Deputy BJ Myers talking to a White Center Resident earlier this year. King County Sheriff Steve Strachan announced plans to hire 14 new deputies on Oct. 12 due to cost savings in the department. It is possible a portion of the new hires could bolster numbers in White Center, Burien and Seatac.
Sheriff’s Office to hire 14 new deputies, possibly adding to local enforcement levels
King County Sheriff Steve Strachan announced on Oct. 12 that he plans to hire 14 additional deputies from September to January, using money saved in their existing budget due to a new zoning model and a reduction in overtime hours.
It is unclear at this time where those deputies will be assigned, although KCSO Sgt. Cindi West said Southwest King County has the highest call loads and the Eastside has the largest geographical area to cover, so those are the most likely candidates. West said the “Southwest” region includes White Center, Burien and SeaTac, for example, so it could mean more KCSO coverage in those areas.
West said the new zoning model that moves on-the-clock deputies to different beats if the need arises has saved the department $600,000 in 2012. She estimated 8000 overtime hours at an average rate of $75 an hour were saved in relation to last year. West said an estimated additional $400,000 has also been saved in “backfill” overtime, and that money will go towards the funding of new positions.
Strachan made his announcement alongside King County Executive Dow Constantine and Councilmembers Joe McDermott (representing West Seattle and White Center) and Kathy Lambert.
“The key to our reform agenda is to engage employees in a process of continual improvement,” Constantine said in a statement. “I appreciate Sheriff Strachan and his staff – from patrol officers to command staff – for piloting a Lean project that cut the use of overtime, helped fill vacancies, and put more police on the street.”
“In the past we have had to maintain a large number of unfilled vacancies in order to save money for unforeseen events and to balance our budget,” Strachan said in the statement. “Because of the good work of our people at the front lines responsible for managing day to day budgets, we can fill some of those vacancies and put more cops on the street.”
Strachan said his department plans to add four officers in October, five in November and five in January.
In the upcoming Nov. 7 election, Strachan will go up against John Urquhart for King County’s top cop position.