King County Executive Dow Constantine on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021 announced the beginning of the recruitment process for King County’s new appointed Sheriff.

The new Sheriff will be appointed – as approved by voters in Nov. 2020 – and will replace Mitzi Johanknecht, who was elected and took office on Jan. 2, 2018.

A new top boss is expected to be installed in the summer of 2022, and an interim Sheriff will take over on Jan. 1.

The King County Sheriff’s Office provides police services to the City of Burien, and the Sheriff gig would pay between $199,195 – $252,429 annually.

“The Sheriff leads the Office toward continuous improvement practices that uphold the values of equity, sustainability, transparency, community representation,” according to the job posting.

With the charter amendment approved by voters in Nov., 2020, the Executive’s office says it has worked to incorporate community identified priorities and qualifications for the next appointed Sheriff using recommendations from the Public Safety Advisory Committee (PSAC).

The open position was posted today and will be shared nationally through various organizations and recruiting forums. King County has engaged POLIHIRE to conduct the recruitment, a firm with extensive experience in leadership recruitment for public service organizations. The recruitment is expected to conclude in the summer of 2022.

“We have an opportunity to rethink community safety – including policing – in King County, and we intend to seize this moment to create positive change. We will conduct an extensive search and interview process to guarantee that the voices of our many communities are heard and reflected in the next Sheriff,” said Executive Constantine. “I look forward to working with an interim Sheriff and the entire Sheriff’s department staff starting January 1 and, after a national search, appointing our new Sheriff.”

The PSAC report highlighted key qualities for a new Sheriff, including a strong background in law enforcement, community leadership, and community partnerships; a reputation for integrity, honesty, and transparency; the ability to inspire and motivate change; and a commitment to equity, racial and social justice, and LGBTQ+ issues. These will form the basis for the core competencies for the next Sheriff.

With Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht’s current term as elected Sheriff expiring at the end of this year, Executive Constantine will soon appoint an Interim Sheriff to lead the King County Sheriff Office (KCSO) on an interim basis beginning Jan. 1, 2022 to ensure a smooth transition and ongoing leadership for KCSO employees while the recruitment process is completed.

Here’s what the county is looking for according to the job posting:

The ideal candidate will bring key professional experience, leadership characteristics, and values to the Office:

Professional experience

Law enforcement & Community background. A law enforcement background, but also experience with community leadership. It may not be essential that candidates for Sheriff be currently commissioned as law enforcement officers, but such a background is important.

Community partnerships. A track record of successful partnerships with diverse communities focused on mutually agreed upon public safety goals.

Executive experience. A diversity of executive experience in leading a sizable organization. The new King County Sheriff will lead a department with hundreds of commissioned deputies and more than 1,000 employees.

Cross-organization collaboration and partnerships. Top candidates must have a history of successful collaboration with partner agencies.

Leadership characteristics

Inspirational and able to motivate change. Understanding of the need for changes in police services and the ability to both inspire these changes in department personnel and engender trust in the community.

Record of success with elected officials, other jurisdictions, and unions. Top candidates must have a record of success in dealing with elected officials and be able to demonstrate the political skills needed to deal effectively with elected officials, other jurisdictions, law enforcement union leaders and their members.


Equity. Full commitment to the vision of King County as a place where all people have equitable opportunities to thrive, including a proven track record of equitable practice by applying a race and social justice perspective that challenges the cultural norms that allow for institutional and systemic racism to exist in an organization.

Integrity. An outstanding reputation for integrity, honesty, and transparency. (The trust of the community and of the public safety department’s personnel is essential to the new Sheriff’s success.)

Additionally, the ideal candidate will also have a clear and demonstrated understanding of the historical and contemporary complexities at the intersection of policing and marginalized communities. Specifically, the candidate will understand the issues surrounding police services for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer communities; and other marginalized communities.


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