Sheriff candidates make first forum appearance on filing week

Two Clallam County Sheriff candidates spoke for the first time last week after filing for the November General Election.

Brian King, 46, chief criminal deputy for the Sheriff’s Department, and Marc Titterness, 45, a patrol officer for Port Townsend Police Department, answered questions about priorities, challenges and more at the Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce’s May 17 luncheon in the Sunland Banquet Room.

King and Titterness, both Port Angeles residents, are vying for Bill Benedict’s position after the long-time Clallam sheriff announced he will not seek a fifth term.

King said one of his priorities is expanding the Clallam County jail and to “provide services we know we need to help break the cycle” of incarceration.

“We need to have wraparound services,” King said. “Many of the people in jail are addicted to drugs and committing crimes because of their addiction.”

King said COVID-19 brought jail numbers down to 40 inmates for safety reasons but they’ve since returned to 100 inmate capacity.

However, COVID infections recently sidelined a few deputies at the same time there were 10 people in mental health crises, he said.

​​One option, King said could potentially help is to bring in Peninsula Behavioral Health officials to “provide some clarity to folks who need the help.”

Titterness said it’s most important “getting back to the basics” by recruiting and retaining a full staff.

“The jail has been planned for expansion, phase 2, for almost 20 years,” he said. “We’re past the point of being able to wait for a new jail. We have to effectively manage the offenders we have in our community.”

Titterness said options are needed now and the plan does not add more jail beds, so the management team needs to determine if detainees will stay local or be sent elsewhere for holding.


Both candidates highlighted concerns for police reform bills they say is inhibiting law enforcement efforts across the state.

With a rise in vehicle thefts, Titterness said, those reforms are “tying our hands.”

He said, “A lot of the problems have to do with policies of the jail refusing to book criminals. Up until last month while on patrol in Clallam County, the most common phrase we heard was ‘jail won’t accept.’

“That’s unacceptable to me. If someone is out there breaking the law, hurting our citizens, there has to be consequences for their actions.”

King said legislators need to “reverse some of the police reforms that have hamstrung some of our officers.”

He added, “The more the legislature takes away from us, the tougher our community has to be. We have to adapt, preserve the public safety of this county.”

Titterness said recent law changes inhibited law enforcement’s ability to pursue vehicles minus some exceptions such as an imminent threat, and to detain someone for investigative purposes or for involuntary treatment for a mental health crisis.

He said the law changed, preventing them from using force to take someone to the hospital.

“Obviously, we never want to use force unless we have to, but there are times when it’s absolutely necessary,” Titterness said.

King said the reform “upended how we do policing” and took away Terry stops that allow them to detain a suspect while they conduct an investigation with probable cause.

“There are unintended consequences that affect our ability to detain people in crisis who need to go to the hospital,” King said. “It needs to be overturned and we need to go back to sensible policing.”

Both agreed that reaching out and collaborating more with legislators is needed.


Titterness said the police reform has led some law enforcement to leave the Olympic Peninsula.

“[Staffing] it’s a problem everywhere,” he said.

“We’ve got great paying jobs in the Clallam County Sheriff’s office with great benefits. People have to know our jobs exist and we have to actively recruit in the community.

“We can’t just wait for applications to come to us.”

Issues such as less traffic patrols, Titterness said, are due to not having enough people.

“Until we hire more people and get more deputies, that’s going to continue being a problem,” he said.

King said after this week they’ll be two deputies from full staff with more incoming from the academy.

“Recruiting and retention is a real issue for us; it’s a United States issue,” he said.

Local agencies are competing with each other for officers, King said, and “the next sheriff is going to have to embrace that challenge.”

He said they’re looking at using federal funding to incentivize hiring, and more recruiting efforts at local events and on multiple online platforms.

Titterness said the Sheriff’s Office needs to recruit at Peninsula College because students there are looking for a living wage job.

Developmental disability community

When asked about better informing deputies about persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, Titterness said annual training is required and they could do more.

He said exposure to law enforcement is important for persons with disabilities and all children in schools.

“If we’re in schools, we get to learn more about the needs of those kids, but they learn to trust law enforcement,” Titterness said.

“That’s a constant problem in the law enforcement community today. It’s why we have all the legislative reform because their primary encounters with us are in traffic stops or when something bad happens.

“We’ve got to build these relationships with kids when they’re younger. When we get down in staff it’s one of the first things that falls by the wayside is special programs.”

King said he’s a member of the Clallam County Disabilities Committee that looks to address first responders’ interactions with persons with developmental disabilities.

He said a pilot project offers first responders information about potential community members on calls for service with autism and/or sensory issues and that “as first responders we can do better with having that information in front of us.”

King said the committee is considering a September First Responders Fair to help introduce various communities to law enforcement.

When asked about early intervention, both agreed school programs, such as D.A.R.E. did not work as intended and that there’s more outreach that school resource officers and law enforcement can do more to educate young people and the community.


King, a Forks High School graduate, has been in law enforcement on the peninsula for 27 years starting in the Forks Police Department and eventually joining the Sheriff’s Office in 2001. He’s been chief criminal deputy since 2015.

King told luncheon participants that the Chamber of Commerce meant a lot to him as his grandparents Bill and Nina Fatherson, long-time Sequim Food Bank director (Nina) and advocates, were named Citizens of the Year.

“Their service has driven me to run for office,” he said.

Titterness, a Kansas native, served with the Kansas Department of Corrections from 2006-2007, and as a deputy for the Wyandotte County Sheriff’s Office in Kansas from 2007-2011, before moving to Sequim.

“We lived in an urban area and wanted to relocate to a smaller town; Clallam County is what we wanted for our family and to raise our kids,” he said.

Titterness served as Clallam County sheriff’s office corrections officer from 2011-2016 and a Clallam County sheriff’s deputy from 2016 until recently when he took a job with Port Townsend Police Department.