There's a new sheriff in town, and it's a familiar face

SEATTLE -- There's a familiar face now in charge of the King County Sheriff's Office. John Urquhart, the agency's longtime spokesman, was sworn in as sheriff Wednesday morning.

He says he plans to get started right away, with meetings scheduled all day with his chiefs and deputies.

Urquhart retired as a sergeant in February, but then decided to run for the head of the department that employed him since 1988.

Several months ago, a pair of independent audits declared that the sheriff's office needs a new review board, possibly with a citizen member, to correct serious flaws in the way it examines shootings and other use-of-force incidents by its deputies. The new sheriff says 25 specific recommendations were addressed, and he plans to tackle each of them.

"We have to look at everything; have to make sure we understand what the community wants," Urquhart said. "It's not what we want, it's not even what we think is right, it's what the community wants -- the kind of police department they want us to be. That's what I intend to do. I don't have a timetable for that."

Urquhart will need to think about re-election sooner than later. He's serving for only one year to fill-out the term of former sheriff Sue Rahr, who resigned earlier this year.

Part of the heavy work load for Urquhart will be mediation hearings involving a $9 million sexual harassment lawsuit filed against the county by three veteran female detectives.