Public safety is an invisible seam. In times of distress, from property crimes to a large-scale horror such as the Oso mudslide, the stitches are exposed and sheriff’s deputies heed the call to serve and to protect. In Snohomish County, it’s an honorable legacy.
Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Trenary, who was appointed in July 2013 when John Lovick left to serve as county executive after Aaron Reardon’s resignation, has fulfilled expectations and then some. He has managed ongoing troubles at the jail with vision and concrete steps. He exhibited judgment and grace under pressure during the Oso tragedy, navigating the alphabet soup of federal and state agencies, working in concert with families of victims and community leaders in Darrington and Arlington.
The Herald Editorial Board strongly endorses Ty Trenary for Snohomish County Sheriff.
After multiple deaths at the county jail since 2010 (the sheriff’s office took the reins in 2009) Trenary ramped up medical services and responded to systemic challenges, including the lure of drawing “contract” inmates from around the Northwest.
The broader dilemma of mental health delivery and a first-responder MO of ferrying the mentally ill to the county lockup demands regional leadership. Currently, in-patient psychiatric beds for adults are available only at Swedish/Edmonds hospital. “We’ve overused the jail for every social solution,” Trenary said.
Trenary’s plans include additional nurses and mental health professionals, transitioning to electronic medical records and enhanced screening of inmates before they’re booked.
Trenary also embraces transparency, immediately posting the National Institute of Corrections’ uncomplimentary assessment of the jail on the sheriff’s website.
Trenary’s agenda merits support, including the need for better technology, a reworking for the three-precinct system to cement links to the community, tackling the rise in opiate abuse, and a push to recruit a more diverse workforce. There are challenges: Public safety eats up 70 percent of the county budget and resources are limited. Trenary, like Snohomish County Prosecutor Mark Roe, expressed frustration over plans for an expensive new courthouse. “What we need are people and services,” he said.
Trenary faces a dynamic opponent in Det. Sgt. Jim Upton. Upton, a Navy veteran with a respected track record, focuses on leadership and accountability. He advocates cutting costs by attracting more civilian employees, especially on the technology side. He also recommends preserving education standards for deputies advancing up the ranks.
But the sheriff’s office is in good hands. Retain Ty Trenary.