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September 8, 1997

Local News

Three-way race for top cop

  by Andrew Walgamott
   In the first King County Sheriff's race in 25 years, three candidates want to pin the badge of chief law enforcer onto their chests. One is the County Council-appointed sheriff, a highly decorated and respected officer who for eight years led the Green River Task Force. Another is a management consultant who's seen police resources implemented better elsewhere. The third says his proudest moment was when he was fired from the Seattle Police Department.
   Carl Clifton
   Clifton, 53, says his priority if elected is redirecting the police department away from catching criminals after the fact and slant it more towards prevention. "Traditionally the function of the police has been to solve crimes after they happen, and catch the criminals. Our current system overcrowds the courts and overpopulates the jails. Police presence should provide protection and be a deterrent to crime," Clifton said. He wants to return to "neighborhood guardianship."
   A resident of Ravensdale, Clifton is a high-tech engineering and management consultant and has worked with Boeing, AT&T, City of Seattle, State of Washington, CIA, USAF and The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Clifton has developed security systems for Nevada testing sites, jailhouse security and 911 emergency communications for central Colorado.
   He says the sheriff's office is an executive management function.
   "With only minor changes and the utilization of modern technology the effectiveness of the police force can be increased a hundredfold," Clifton said. He has a Masters of Business Administration from Century University in California. He also claims to have military combat command experience. Clifton says he is seeking office because he's seen, "much better implementations of police resources at other locations."
   Chuck Pillon
   A 45-year resident of King County, Pillon sees irony in his campaign for sheriff. Here is a man who has spent a lifetime sticking his finger in the eye of Police Administration [who] now ostensibly [seeks] to become one High Sheriff of the County," Pillon said.
   Pillon says he was fired after 23 years in the Seattle Police Department for pointing to the failure of the police to address drugs and gangs in neighborhoods. Since then he says he has taken the war against child abuse and families to the steps of the state government.
   "I seek the Sheriff's office because I need the staff and budget to continue this vital work," Pillon said.
   If elected, Pillon said he would address the "waste of cops in the Internal Investigations Unit [and] Media Relations." "I am going to return the office to the hands of the people, removed from the morass that has kept the appointed sheriffs of the recent past on the leash of the central power structure of the county," Pillon said.
   Dave Reichert
   The grandson of a Lutheran minister and a Town Marshal, Reichert says he knew he was destined for public service. After considering life in the church and a stint in the air force, the current council-appointed Sheriff joined the King County Police department in 1972 as a patrol officer.
   And what service it's been. Reichert was the head detective on the Green River Task Force for eight years, investigating the deaths of a number of prostitutes from the Seattle area.
   The task force found 1,800 missing women nationwide, solved two other serial murders and made countless arrests in other crimes, as well as set standards for outdoor crime scene and major crime investigations followed by police agencies up and down the West Coast.
   Though the Green River killer has yet to be brought to justice, Reichert says it still remains in the back of his mind and that it taught him patience and tenacity.
   Reichert has been awarded for being wounded in the line of duty and subduing an armed man. He has served as commander of hostage negotiation, bomb disposal and traffic enforcement units. Before being appointed sheriff, he was the commander of Precinct 2 which covers north and eastern King County.
   Reichert says he wants to bring a more regional approach to law enforcement. "For Woodinville, Duvall and Carnation, what they're going to see is a Sheriff's Department that will reach out and try to get them to be partners with us," he said.
   Reichert describes himself as "service oriented from the heart", as well as a "cop's cop, quiet...fair, but tough." He has lived in the Renton area since coming here from Minnesota when he was 1-year-old.