FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.

Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

More than 50 King County Sheriff’s Office employees retired, resigned or were fired because they refused to get the COVID-19 vaccination, according to the sheriff’s office.

Interim Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall and legal advisor Erin Overbey briefed the King County Council on the effects of the COVID-19 mandate on May 10.

The COVID-19 vaccine mandate for King County Executive staff issued on Aug. 10, 2021, required staff to be fully vaccinated by Oct. 18, 2021, unless they received a religious or medical exemption, Cole-Tindall said.

After the mandate was announced, 81 sheriff’s office employees applied for religious exemptions and 17 applied for medical exemptions, Overbey said. The county granted 84 exemptions and denied five, while only three employees were granted accommodations and 86 were denied, according to the sheriff’s office.

The only employees who were given accommodations were those who could perform 100% of their work duties remotely, Overbey said. That meant that staff who are required to interact in person with the public or other staff were not given accommodations, Overbey said.

Some employees quit before a determination had been made regarding their exemption, Overbey said. After accommodation determinations were made, 27 commissioned and six professional employees were fired. In addition to this, 20 commissioned and two professional employees chose to retire or resign.

“We actually lost, unfortunately, a large number of people during this process,” Overbey said.

There are currently 113 commissioned and 59 professional employee vacancies at the King County Sheriff’s Office. The COVID-19 mandate accounts for about 31% of the total vacancies.

The King County Sheriff’s Office had the highest percentage of employees terminated due to lack of vaccinations out of all King County departments, according to the King County Executive’s Office. Approximately 4.6% of sheriff’s office employees were terminated because they didn’t get vaccinated.

Cole-Tindall said that prior to the vaccine mandate, there was still a large number of vacancies caused by several factors including the fact a large number of employees were eligible for retirement around the same time.

The sheriff’s office is putting a lot of resources into hiring new employees, including $15,000 signing bonuses for lateral hires of commissioned employees and $7,500 for entry-level employees, Cole-Tindall said.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@issaquahreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.issaquahreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in News

File photo.
King County Council approves creation of Cannabis Safety Taskforce amid rash of dispensary robberies

The multi-agency task force will cooperate to find ways to improve safety in the cash-only industry.

Screenshot from ORCA website
New ORCA system launches for regional transit across the Puget Sound

Overhaul includes new website, mobile application and digital business account manager.

Judged by XII: A King County Local Dive podcast. The hands shown here belong to Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson, who has been charged with homicide in the 2019 death of Jesse Sarey.
JUDGED BY XII (Episode 4): Foster mom wants accountability in Auburn cop’s upcoming murder trial

Special podcast series explores Auburn Police Officer Jeffrey Nelson’s role in the death of Jesse Sarey.

Sunset Elementary School. Courtesy of Google.
Sunset Elementary School cancels classes over COVID-19 challenges

The school will be closed on May 16 and May 17.

Courtesy of Cougar Mountain Zoo.
Cougar Mountain Zoo launches nationwide interactive class

The class will take place on May 17 at 4:00 p.m. and will show eating habits of animals.

FILE PHOTO: King County Sheriff’s Office deputies.
Dozens of King County Sheriff’s Office employees left jobs instead of getting vaccinated

This added on to the existing number of vacancies in the department.

Pamela Stuart (Screenshot from Twitter)
King County Council chooses Pamela Stuart to fill Sammamish City Council vacancy

The seat became vacant when Ken Gamblin resigned on January 17.

Courtesy of Raintown Realty.
Raintown Realty partners with Side to assist with evolving real estate market

According to Raintown Realty, in 2021 the company garnered $113 million in transaction volume.

King County logo
King County audit finds backlog of property tax exemption applications for seniors, people with disabilities, and disabled veterans

The auditors found that program expansions lead to three-times the amount of applications.

Most Read