July 11, 2011
Executive appoints special investigator for Los Angeles police commission to head new King County Office of Law Enforcement Oversight
Charles Gaither, a former Seattle resident and former L.A. cop, brings more than 15 years of law enforcement experience to new position
A manager of internal investigations and performance audits for the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners was named today by King County Executive Dow Constantine to head the County's new Office of Law Enforcement Oversight, which was established to ensure the integrity of the King County Sheriff's complaint and investigation process.
"The people of King County will benefit from the experience, professionalism, and leadership that Charles Gaither brings to the table," said Executive Constantine. "With his track record, we expect him to bring transparency and accountability to civilian oversight of County policing. We had three outstanding finalists, each of whom would have made an excellent director."
The appointment of Charles Gaither, which comes after a nationwide search, must be confirmed by the Metropolitan King County Council. The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) is an independent agency within the legislative branch of County government.
"I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as the Director of OLEO and look forward to working closely with Sheriff Rahr, members of the Sheriff's Office, and community leaders and stakeholders alike," said Mr. Gaither. "I also wish to thank those who labored tirelessly to establish this office and will work diligently to assure accountability and transparency of County policing."
"I'm very pleased with the selection of the new OLEO director," said King County Sheriff Sue Rahr. "All three candidates had great qualifications and I was especially impressed with those of Mr. Gaither. I'm looking forward to working with him and the new Office of Law Enforcement Oversight."
"We were fortunate to have so many quality candidates seek the position of King County' s first Director of Law Enforcement Oversight, and I am very pleased with the Executive's choice of Charles Gaither," said Steve Eggert, President of the King County Police Officers' Guild and a member of the Selection Committee. "I believe his breadth of experience, in both law enforcement and law enforcement oversight, make him uniquely qualified for this position."
Since 2005, Mr. Gaither served as a Special Investigator for the Los Angeles Police Commission, where he reviewed investigations involving officer-involved shootings, in-custody deaths, and law enforcement-related injuries. He also conducted performance audits of police operations involving anti-terrorism, biased policing, and allegations of police misconduct.
"As a sponsor of the effort to bring increased transparency and accountability to the Sheriff's Office, I am pleased we are moving forward to bring on a Director to launch the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight and implement this important reform," said Councilmember Bob Ferguson, chair of the Council's Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee.
"I am pleased the Executive chose to appoint Charles Gaither as the first Director of the Office of Law Enforcement Oversight," said Council Chair Larry Gossett, who served as the Council's representative on the Selection Committee. "Mr. Gaither's extensive law enforcement and oversight experience make him the perfect person to build the foundation for oversight in King County. He understands not only the difficulties involved in being a law enforcement officer but also the damage that can be done in the community when officers abuse their authority. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Council when Mr. Gaither's appointment is before us for confirmation."
"The Office of Law Enforcement Oversight provides the people of King County with a window into the Sheriff's internal investigation process to ensure that it is thorough and fair," said Councilmember Julia Patterson, who co-sponsored the legislation to create the OLEO. "I applaud the work of the search committee and the Executive for their careful selection of Mr. Gaither, whose impressive resume and wealth of experience will serve him well in the Director position."
The five-member Selection Committee consisted of representatives from the County Executive's office, the County Council, the Puget Sound Police Managers' Association, and the King County Police Officers Guild. The four members chose a fifth and together they reviewed numerous applicants for the position and selected five potential candidates. Those candidates were interviewed at a public meeting on June 2, and the committee forwarded three finalists including Gaither for final consideration by the Executive.
Mr. Gaither is a former resident of Seattle who earned his law degree from Seattle University and held positions as a legal intern in the Seattle City Attorney's office, as a Trustee in the Young Lawyers Division of the King County Bar Association, and as a law clerk with the local firm of Riddell Williams P.S.
In Los Angeles he served as a federal agent with the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, a detention officer for the Los Angeles County Probation Department, and as a police officer with the Los Angeles Police Department. He also earned a Master's degree in Public Administration from California State University, Long Beach.
His appointment must be confirmed by the King County Council.
For more information about the OLEO Director selection process, visit www.kingcounty.gov/council/issues/oleo.aspx