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Snohomish County executive considering taking control of county jail

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EVERETT, Wash. -- Snohomish County Sheriff-elect Adam Fortney, the sergeant who beat his boss on a platform of reforming the county jail, could lose control of the facility he promised to change.

County Executive Dave Somers said on his Facebook page that he's considering asking the County Council to revert control of the jail from the sheriff's office to the executive's office.

"My interest is making sure that we recognize the jail is not only a detention facility, but also our largest mental health and substance abuse facility. It's appropriate to punish law breakers, but also need to help folks to get on a path to a productive life," he said.

In recent years, the Snohomish County Jail has responded to a drastic increase in drug addiction and mental health issues by opting not to book certain individuals suspected of minor crimes. Fortney promised voters that would change if he were elected.

Although the jail was run by the executive's office in the past, taking control away from the sheriff's office could be seen as an effort to undermine the results of the election, as Somers supported incumbent Sheriff Ty Trenary.

Fortney said he met with Somers over the weekend.

“Since I haven't had even one conversation with the county executive prior to this meeting I think I was able to correct some pre-conceived notions he may have had about my plans for the jail,” Sgt. Fortney said in a Facebook post.

Q13 News has reached out to Executive Somers, Sheriff Trenary, and Sgt. Fortney for comment.

Somers released a statement late Monday morning, saying, in part:

While there is no formal proposal to change management of the jail at this time, we will continue to engage in policy discussions with the County Council, the sheriff-elect, and the public over the important topic of how to maximize public safety and protect taxpayers’ dollars. These are issues we have been discussing for a number of years, and it’s important that those discussions continue.

The jail is expected to receive accreditation later this month, a rare event in our state. We cannot afford to lose the progress that we have made. At the end of the day, we want a safe and efficiently run jail.

I am looking forward to working with Sheriff-elect Adam Fortney to make sure we are keeping our communities safe and protecting taxpayers’ dollars. That is my sole goal.

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