KING COUNTY, Wash. - Tens of thousands of people in the tech industry are losing their jobs across the nation, including hundreds of people in the Seattle metro area. Companies including Meta, Amazon, Twitter and Reddit have recently announced layoffs.
One law enforcement agency said the loss could be a crucial gain for public safety. The King County Sheriff’s Office hopes to capitalize on the layoffs by actively recruiting.
"From a mail theft to a murder, we know almost every crime that we investigate now is going to have some digital forensic footprint. Those skills will find a home here at the sheriff’s office," said Captain Tim Meyer with the sheriff’s office. "The same skills and education it takes to build a good program or good user interface, those [skills] build good criminal cases and help keep communities safe."
The Criminal Investigation Division just arrested nine suspects, all accused of using online messaging sites and apps to communicate with children to pay for sex. Meyer said detectives followed the online trends and patterns of the suspects to crack the criminal case. He said this is just one example of the skills the laid off workers could bring to public safety.
"Our detectives, they are out there, they’re learning which messaging apps, protocols, how do those things happen. We know so much of the activity and sometimes, that activity that impacts our communities most is digital, and it’s underground. So, being able to bring those skills in, that background, that knowledge both in software, hardware, but also the logic that goes to support that is important," said Meyer.
During the most urgent moments in someone’s life, staff at the King County Sheriff’s Office 911 Center are on the line to assist.
"We are the first first-responders here. We’re the ones that take the call when people need help," said Kelli West, the center’s recruitment supervisor.
Through software, hardware, data and phone systems, the center relies heavily on technology to serve those in crisis. However, the center is in a crisis of its own—dealing with a 40% staffing shortage. With the tech industry layoffs, officials at the communications center said they hope those workers will want to transfer their skills to public service.
"People that already have a tech background can come in and already be one step ahead. It’s going to be very easy to teach the computer and the dispatch system and phone systems to somebody who does have a background in technology," said Lacie Foster, the center’s communications training supervisor.
The sheriff’s office recently attended a career fair in Shoreline recruiting all people who have interest in public safety. The open jobs vary in position and salary. To give an idea about pay, deputies can make approximately between $73,000 to $103,000.
More information about career opportunities is available on the King County Sheriff’s Office website.