King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht made an appearance on conservative KTTH radio yesterday to chat a bit about her support of I-940, the initiative to mandate more de-escalation training and change the state's deadly force law. She also addressed a question from host Todd Herman about last week's youth jail protests in downtown Seattle.
"In the King County Sheriff's jurisdiction, if seven people or 14 people take it upon themselves to block the roads as political protest, will they be removed?" Herman asked. (None of the protesters who blocked traffic on 4th Ave last Friday were arrested.)
“Well, we have a lot of two-lane roadways out there, Todd, so it will create a backup pretty quickly,” Johanknecht said. “As a matter of fact—that was last Thursday, right?—on that day I worked remotely. My office is down there and there was no way I was going to get to it; some other staff having two and three hour commutes that day. So, you know, each agency decides how to handle things differently."
"What about in your jurisdiction?"
"In my jurisdiction, if the roadway is blocked, then we would make arrests," Johanknecht said. "But we would work with the protesters. You know, often times it's them wanting to be arrested."
Johanknecht added that she thought it was a "big public safety issue" when protesters blocked traffic. (Todd Herman, of course, proclaimed that he would make a "citizen's arrest" if he saw protesters blocking a street. Okay, Todd.)
But! Notably! Johanknecht is also supporting the De-Escalate Washington initiative that's currently up for last-minute debate in the state legislature (and long has). Police unions across the state vehemently opposed I-940 until some reached a deal with De-Escalate Washington and legislators this week. Yesterday afternoon, the state House of Representatives passed a modified version of the bill, as did the Senate Law and Justice Committee. Today's the last day legislators have to pass bills before the end of session. Read the latest here.