Sexist Sergeant?

John Urquhart May Be a Shitty Manager, But He's No Misogynist

Sexist Sergeant?
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For months, rumors of piss-poor management skills and an inability to work well with women have dogged the heels of Sergeant John Urquhart, one of the two men vying to become the next King County Sheriff—a tense race that's pitted Sheriff Steve Strachan, whom The Stranger endorsed, against Urquhart, a 24-year department veteran and former spokesman.

The rumors stem from a 2003 internal investigation of Urquhart's management skills while he was overseeing 30 deputies in Burien. Several deputies had complained that Urquhart was verbally demeaning and discriminated against female deputies, according to internal department records. The story was even picked up by KIRO this month.

I spoke to Liz Johnson, a now-retired officer who worked for Urquhart in 2002, who said Urquhart joked about her personal life during roll call and told her how to conduct herself when off duty. "Where women were concerned... he leads by belittlement and condescension," she told me.

An active-duty female deputy, who asked to remain anonymous, said Urquhart wouldn't allow two women to take calls together, and he banished her to only patrol select areas in the Burien precinct that he oversaw. "It really came to the forefront that his mentality was 'women should be in charge of [certain] stuff because they're women.' When in reality, we've all got the same training and skills to do the job," she said.

But the criticisms seem to be an astute political attack launched by Strachan's campaign during a decidedly close race. When I contacted Urquhart about the allegations, 10 colleagues—mostly women—who've worked with him for years stepped forward with impassioned testimonials vouching for his character.

"I can see his bluntness rubbing some people the wrong way, but I have never, ever seen him treat female deputies differently," said one still-active female deputy, who also asked that we not print her name because she works with Strachan.

Urquhart's proposed chief deputy, the retired Spokane chief, Anne Kirkpatrick, was more blunt: "If I, for one moment, thought that John had a problem with women or was a misogynist, then there is no way I would affiliate myself with him," she said.

Despite the allegations in 2003, only part of one complaint—dealing with performance standards—was sustained by investigators. Captain Annette Louie reported at the time that Urquhart's "management style and communication skills created low morale and stress at work." The report goes on to recommend training to help Urquhart improve his leadership skills—not disciplinary action.

To wit, John Urquhart might've been a shitty manager, but it doesn't appear that he was a discriminatory one. "I am blunt," Urquhart admits. "But to say that I don't work well with women is patently ridiculous, and it's not true." recommended


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Probably why John needs to invest $80,000 of his own money into his campaign...he is trying to buy the election.

His choice for Chief Deputy is Anne Kirkpatrick: She has a habit of not following employment law or bargaining agreements. She is personally liable for a $250,000 judgement for one officer she fired and the city of Spokane is paying $1.6M in judgements to date for her actions.

John Urquhart should collect his Social Security next year and retire to one of his many vacation homes.
Posted by thoughtyoushouldknow on October 24, 2012 at 12:52 PM · Report this
Why oh why did The Stranger endorse Steve Strachan?? He's only been endorsed by Republicans and the Seattle Times. Urquhart is clearly the more progressive candidate, having been endorsed by FUSE, over 20 Democratic organizations, and he even did better with SEAMEC. He even held a joint fundraiser for R-74 where Ed Murray, another endorser, spoke! He gave a speech last night at the Stranger Voting Party, and he was great!

It seems like these women and Strachan's campaign have a political agenda, and it's not surprising that they're finally speaking out two weeks before an election.
Posted by Whodunit? on October 24, 2012 at 12:56 PM · Report this
Urquhart is not great...far from it...did you really say the Strachan campaign has a political agenda...yes...I imagine it is to get Strachan elected. The story has been out for over a month...

He is a great speaker...he is just a shitty manager...its your funeral...and tax dollars.
Posted by thoughtyoushouldknow on October 24, 2012 at 1:10 PM · Report this
Clearly Steve Strachan's campaign is desperate and flailing, and they know the only way to win this race is to destroy a good person's reputation who has served the public for 36 years. Frankly, I find it sad. Looking forward to having John Urquhart as my Sheriff.
Posted by Whodunit? on October 24, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
5 will be waiting a long time to see Urquhart as Sheriff, notwithstanding your personal relationship with him. $80K to try to buy the election next year?
Posted by thoughtyoushouldknow on October 24, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
Keep that positive messaging from Strachan coming! Oh wait...he can only sling mud. He better be careful, wouldn't want too much mud getting on that pretty little uniform of his he was campaigning in at the GOP picnic. Hope it was worth it!
Posted by Whodunit? on October 24, 2012 at 4:59 PM · Report this
I have this one question to ask John Urquhart, can he look in the mirror and ask himself, have I been an ethical Sergeant, have I treated all the employees who were under me fair and square and I have not had any kind of personal or intimate relationships with the people I am in charge of. If he can answer this question truthfully than he has my vote. If he cannot than he is a super hypocrite and it will catch up to him.
Posted by theaccused on October 24, 2012 at 5:11 PM · Report this
I have a question for John Urquhart. If he can look in the mirror and say he has treated all of his subordinates the same when he was Sergeant and that when he was a Sergeant he did not have any improper relations with any of his subordinates and treated them all the same than he has my vote. If not he is a super hypocrite.
Posted by jodiefoster on October 24, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
It sounds like a minor problem for Urquhart, but certainly not a campaign-killing disclosure. Their complaints don't rise to the level of discrimination lawsuits (whew!), but I think they are valid questions about whether Urquhart is ready to lead 1,000 employees. I tend to think not.
Posted by Max Powers on October 24, 2012 at 6:19 PM · Report this
It sounds like a minor problem for Urquhart, but certainly not a campaign-killing disclosure. Their complaints don't rise to the level of discrimination lawsuits (whew!), but I think they are valid questions about whether Urquhart is ready to lead 1,000 employees.

I tend to think he isn't. He wasn't endorsed by any of the people he would be working with as sheriff, but his opponent Strachan was. No one is coming forward to say bad things about Strachan; quite the opposite. His last boss (Kent mayor) gushes about him in public, and only says good things.

I'd rather have happy cops on the street. I'm voting for Sheriff Strachan.

Posted by Max Powers on October 24, 2012 at 6:31 PM · Report this
@whodunit? You clearly misunderstand...I am not supporting Strachan I am an advocate against John. Have you seen anything in my comments that are pro-Strachan. No...I just think that Urquhart is a shitty manager. Unlike you or the 10 people who called in to say John is a good guy; I happen to know.
Posted by thoughtyoushouldknow on October 24, 2012 at 8:40 PM · Report this
Why does the "ex-Deputy" who worked for Sgt. Urquhart over 10 years ago feel the need to waste all this time bashing someone for someone she worked for such a long time ago. It just seems very concerning to me. If Urquhart had actually caused her pain/harassment or other career issues, I could understand but this just seems like a bored woman looking for 15 minutes of fame.

Also, what was this alleged call that Sgt. Urquhart only wanted women to go to? I need to know more about that before I can make assessment on whether this is "mean girl" bashing or something voters should actually be concerned about.
Posted by Livingthedream on October 25, 2012 at 6:19 AM · Report this
The last two paragraphs of this article sum it up quite well. If you want a Sheriff who creates low morale and stress for his subordinates, one who is a “shitty” manager, vote for John Urquhart.
Posted by ATCK on October 27, 2012 at 11:22 AM · Report this
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