King County Sheriff: Staff Must Work Remotely Amid Violence

SEATTLE (AP) — The King County sheriff has instituted an immediate return to 100% remote work for many staffers, citing unsafe conditions around the county courthouse and parking garage as well as an administrative building and jail in downtown Seattle.

Longtime concerns over safety and social issues at the courthouse preceded an alleged attempted rape last week inside a courthouse restroom.

King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht made the announcement in a letter to staff on Tuesday, The Seattle Times reported. She said professional staff members who do not routinely interact with the public should return to 100% remote work immediately.

Johanknecht said she will be meeting with other county officials to discuss safety solutions for the courthouse and surrounding area.

Citing “dire conditions,” 33 King County Superior Court judges and four court commissioners have asked Seattle Parks and Recreation Superintendent Jesús Aguirre to shut down the adjacent City Hall Park and relocate residents of a sprawling encampment.

The courthouse, which houses the Sheriff’s Office, has been dealing with safety concerns since at least 2017, when attacks on two jurors and half a dozen employees prompted judges to ask the county for help.