King County paying sheriff's deputies $4,000 bonus to stay on through end of 2022

The King County Sheriff's Office is paying commissioned employees a $4,000 bonus to stay with the department through the end of 2022.

It's just one of several bonuses being offered to sheriff's office employees as part of an agreement with the King County Police Officers Guild.

A memorandum of understanding obtained by FOX 13 News also shows other bonuses being offered by the county including a $15,000 for lateral hires of deputies, a $7,500 bonus for news hires of deputies, and referral bonus of $5,000 for bargaining unit members who successfully refer candidates who become a deputy.

Employees who receive the retention bonus must stay employed with the sheriff's office through the end of the year.

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According to the memo, payments will be made to those employed with the sheriff's office as of Jan. 1, 2021 no later than Feb. 17, 2022.

"Any employee who receives the $4,000 retention bonus must remain employed by KCSO through December 31, 2022, or they will be required to return the entire retention bonus. Except, any employee that separates employment by disability or death, or any employee that retires in 2022 with 45 days advance notice to KCSO prior to their retirement date shall not be required to return the retention bonus."

King County Executive Dow Constantine announced in Nov. that he appointed Patti Cole-Tindall as the interim King County Sheriff

Previous Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht’s term ended and Cole-Tindall took over duties on Jan. 1, 2022.

King County voters decided last year to make the sheriff an appointed position and not an elected position. The County Executive now appoints a sheriff and the Metropolitan King County Council confirms the decision.

The King County Sheriff's Office employs around 1,100 people. As of Nov. 2021, there were about 60 open positions with many of them on the patrol unit.

RELATED: Mayor Durkan authorizes up to $25,000 in hiring bonuses to help Seattle Police staffing crisis

Cole-Tindall told FOX 13 in late 2021 that she supported Constantine’s proposal to give out retention and hiring bonuses.

"Overall in the profession of law enforcement, it’s difficult. People don’t want to do this work anymore. The young people-- they see defund and they see non-support," Cole-Tindall said.

But she also supports reimagining the role of law enforcement as well as diversifying the force.

"Bring in diversity, women, people of color so that the sheriff’s office reflects the community," Cole-Tindall said.

Cole-Tindall says outside of commissioned deputies, the civilian workforce is understaffed, that they do a lot with less.

She says she will try to beef up resources for people who work in divisions like the records department to 911 dispatch.

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