We have discussed him before, but the Snohomish County sheriff is in the news again. Sheriff Adam Fortney says he believes Governor Inslee's “stay home, stay safe” statewide mandate is unconstitutional and he has no plans to enforce it in Snohomish County.
Fortney, who is in his first term as sheriff, has been controversial before. Last November, former Snohomish Sheriff Ty Trenary fired two deputies over their involvement in an illegal search of a vehicle. The two deputies had been very vocal about their support for Fortney's campaign to run for sheriff. A day after they were fired, Trenary lost his re-election bid to Fortney, who has always claimed that Trenary's actions were politically motivated.
At the beginning of his tenure, Fortney rehired the two deputies—just days after he had reinstated another officer who had been involved in the unjustified shooting death of Nick Peters that resulted in a one-million-dollar settlement between the Peters family and the county. In both cases, Fortney admitted that the deputies' behaviors may have been wrong, but he didn't believe them to be “illegal.”
At a January 2020 news conference to announce his rehiring decisions, Fortney said:
I know what this looks like -- Fortney's coming in, Adam's coming in and he's reinstating all his friends. I just want to make it very clear that's not what's going on here. I'm the new sheriff. I get to weigh in on my guys' discipline.
Now Fortney is questioning the governor's decision to mandate a shelter-in-place during the current COVID-19 pandemic, and he's questioning scientific models of the outbreak. The University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation released a model that said that lifting the current stay-at-home mandate before May 4 could lead to a rise in deaths. But according to Fortney,
As more data floods in week by week and day by day about this pandemic I think it is clear that the 'models' have not been entirely accurate.
It is unclear what models Fortney was referring to that were inaccurate. Fortney has also been critical over businesses like marijuana dispensaries being deemed “essential” while small home construction companies are not.
Right to Have an Opinion
While Fortney certainly has the right to his opinions, sometimes people confuse opinions with judgment, and members of law enforcement are not supposed to let their opinions overtake them when it comes to enforcing the law. Opinions can lead to travesties like the death of Nick Peters.
If you recently had an experience with law enforcement and you believe your rights were infringed because of a police officer's opinion or bias, contact former-prosecutor Steve Karimi for a free consultation about your case. He can be contacted online or by calling 206-621-8777.