King County Sheriff responds to request to release records to ICE
King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht released a statement regarding the release of records to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Sheriff said:
I have repeatedly promised transparency to the good people of King County. I have also promised to earn and maintain community trust by being open about our mistakes and to explain what I will do to fix them.
I want to express my gratitude to the King County Auditor’s Office for their findings and recommendations on this matter. Their work allows the Sheriff’s Office to find gaps or shortcomings in our policy and practices, and allows us to institute policy changes so that we follow the law and ensure best practices within the Office.
Today, I tell you that we failed in our duty to follow King County Code 2.15 when my office released roughly two dozen documents to ICE.
The King County Sheriff’s Office, between January 2018 and May 2019, received 25 information requests from ICE. In reviewing these files, the majority of the documents released are arrest reports for individuals. In every instance, the ICE requester provided personal information such as the individual’s name, date of birth and a case number prior to requesting the arrest reports.
Pursuant to KCC 2.15 mentioned above, we should have determined whether these requests were for civil immigration enforcement before releasing these documents. We did not. Although the release of this information appears to be due to human error, we have taken significant steps to insure this will not happen again.
Going forward, each request from ICE/CBP/DHS, or any person believed to be affiliated with such agencies, will be subject to a two-part review by a Record Specialist team lead, as well as the Records Unit Manager and/or Captain.
The purpose of the review will be to determine if disclosure of the information by the Records Unit would violate provisions in KCC Code 2.15 by providing personal information to federal immigration authorities for civil immigration enforcement without a criminal warrant or legal requirement.
Below is a link to the documents released to ICE between January 2018 and May 2019. We have redacted the names and personal information of arrestees and witnesses to protect their identities.
Click HERE to download Records Unit government request responses.
Sheriff Mitzi G. Johanknecht
King County Sheriff’s Office