King County Prosecutor announces new divisions, priorities

Changes are coming to the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office (KCPAO), which on Tuesday announced new divisions dedicated to gun violence, felony traffic crimes, economic crimes and gender-based violence.

Leesa Manion was elected the new county prosecutor in 2022, and aims to devote more resources to specific areas of crime.

"As I have shared many times over the past year, public safety is my number one priority," said King County Prosecuting Attorney Leesa Manion. "I believe the changes I am announcing today will improve public safety by addressing and bringing focused attention to some of King County’s greatest areas of concern."

KCPAO will have a new "Gun Violence Prevention Unit," which will focus on identifying and prosecuting suspects of gun violence, as well as connecting people close to gun violence to community-based resources. Manion hopes the unit will expand coordination with the office's Extreme Risk Protection Order team.

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There will also be a new "Economic Crimes and Wage Theft Division" aimed at organized retail theft, identity theft, fraud, elder abuse and wage theft.

"In 2022, the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office filed more than double the number of organized retail theft charges than it did in 2021," said Manion. "Many of those cases were filed in collaboration with the Seattle City Attorney’s Office. Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is a strong leader and has been a valuable partner in making Seattle a safer city, and I look forward to our continued collaboration."

The office is adding a "Felony Traffic Unit," as well, helmed by longtime KCPAO traffic crimes expert Amy Freedheim, who has been with the agency since 1991. The unit will work on cases of vehicular assault and homicide.

Lastly, the office is workshopping a new division focused on gender-based violence, but it does not have a name yet. It will include the Domestic Violence Unit, the Sexually Violent Predator Unit, Special Assault Units and Hate Crimes.

"Cases involving rape, sexual assault and domestic violence often share some common evidentiary issues, and a focused approach will improve the prosecution of these serious crimes," said Manion. "While all victims and survivors of crime are relevant and deserve to be heard, the purpose of this new division is to elevate and improve our office’s response to gender-based violence. This division will bring a trauma-informed, victim-centered response to these cases."

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Additionally, the office announced Carla Lee as the new Chief of Staff, and that Dan Clark has been retained as Chief of the Criminal Division, and Christina Miyamasu has been retained as the Assistant Chief of the Criminal Division.

Despite these new changes, KCPAO promises felony criminal cases remains their priority, and these new divisions and units will not undercut their efforts prosecuting felony crimes.