Western News

Sheriff Sanders Asks Voters for More Deputies for Crime Crisis

Part One of my series on newly elected Sheriff Derek Sanders of Thurston County, Washington.  Thurston County surrounds Olympia, Washington’s state capital.  Olympia is sixty miles south of Seattle and one hundred miles north of Portland, Oregon.


Olympia metro area’s crime crisis –


Crime in the Olympia/Lacey/Tumwater metro area has exploded for years.  There appears no end in sight to the chaos and lawlessness.

Drug infested homeless camps have taken over large areas of what used to be a lovely state capital.  There are few areas in Olympia where you feel safe while walking or driving.

The Olympia City Council curtly responds by asking people to “reimagine” policing and criminal justice.

They insist that it is just too old-fashioned and intolerant to want to stay safe at home and at work.

Suffering crime victims are shamed and scolded for seeking justice.

Terrorized neighborhoods are told to empathize with the violent gangs and rioters who destroy their homes and businesses.

For so long, it has seemed hopeless for Thurston County’s cities.


Urban crime spreads into unincorporated Thurston County 


Until recent years, Thurston County’s rural communities escaped a lot of the crises that plagued the Olympia metro area.

Not any longer.

Violence, homeless camps, rampant crime, addiction, and other chaos expanded from the Olympia area into once peaceful unincorporated Thurston County communities.

Rural Thurston Facebook groups have exploded with anger and fear at the new reality that had taken over their lives.

The Sheriff is responsible for law enforcement in unincorporated Thurston County.

Longtime Thurston County Sheriff John Snaza would respond to exploding crime with a shrug and “There’s nothing we can do.”

Sheriff Snaza took that theme into his 2022 re-election campaign.   It had always worked like a charm before.

Snaza was accustomed to running unopposed.  He was seen as an institution in the county.  The ultimate inner circle guy.

Who would be foolish enough to run against the entrenched establishment?

It was like the chorus of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is” –

That’s just the way it is, some things will never change.  That’s just the way it is.

Then – out of nowhere – a gritty 28 year old night shift deputy completed the song’s chorus:

Ah, but don’t you believe them.

Thurston County Deputy Derek Sanders was a political outsider, in a very insider county.

He ran on a law and order platform.

Sheriff John Snaza’s campaign grossly outspent Derek’s.

Snaza ran a vicious, brutal campaign.  No dirty tricks were off-limits.

Derek Sanders defeated Sheriff Snaza by over eleven percentage points.

Because the citizens of Thurston County had enough of “that’s just the way it is.”

That’s what you call a mandate by the people, for the people.

Derek Sanders is reported to be the youngest Sheriff in Washington State history.


Derek Sanders elected Thurston County Sheriff. Source – Washington Secretary of State


Derek Sanders is Thurston County’s new Sheriff


In his first eight and a half months as sheriff, Derek Sanders became a fixture on state and national news, because of his aggressive law and order agenda.

Below are three videos from Seattle TV news.

In the first video below, Derek discusses his childhood experiences with domestic violence, homelessness, and poverty – and how those experiences led to his comprehensive domestic violence program –



Here he discusses his crackdown on drunk drivers –



Below, Sheriff Sanders explains his aggressive approach to dealing with the state’s disturbing new pursuit law that puts communities at risk:



Part Two of my series on Derek Sanders will show videos from his appearances on national TV news.


Body Cam Footage of deputy involved shooting of a man threatening to “kill somebody” in domestic violence call


The body cam video below is one of the most gut wrenching things I have ever seen.

Viewer discretion advised.  This is the real world these deputies live in every day.

A man had called 911 to report “domestic violence” – and that the violent person was him.  He was at home with his partner and their three children.

He calmly told dispatch to send the police, or “I’ll kill somebody.”

My heart goes out to brave Deputy Graves who prevented what could have been a major tragedy.

Deputy Graves fired his weapon after the suspect pulled a gun from his holster.

It’s chilling to think of what could have happened if Deputy Graves hadn’t acted so quickly.

We see news reports all the time about deranged people killing their own families.

And we think, if only someone had been there to stop it.

This time – someone was there.

We need more of them out on patrol.



At the bottom of this article is a link to Deputy Graves’ unedited body cam video.

That link will take you away from this page, onto the Thurston County Sheriff’s YouTube page.


Three weeks later, Thurston County Commissioners vote to put Public Safety Tax on the November ballot


Three weeks after the above call, the Thurston County Commissioners voted to put a Public Safety Tax on the November ballot.

Proposition One adds two-tenths of one percent (0.2%) dedicated to supporting public safety in the county.

Seventy-five percent of the revenue would support law enforcement, and 25% in associated prosecution services, public defense, and elections security infrastructure.

Thurston County Commissioner Carolina Mejia states that Proposition One has safety measures to make sure the designated funds go to the Sheriff’s Office – and don’t get lost along the way.

Mejia adds that the 0.2% increase goes to a separate fund specifically for its purpose.

I have assured Commissioner Mejia that my husband Steve and I would personally monitor this fund, on behalf of the taxpayers and on behalf of the Sheriff’s Office.


Sheriff Sanders states on his Facebook page:


“The sales tax increase is a 0.2% increase (2 cents for every $10 spent), and is NOT a property tax increase.

If passed, the Sheriff’s Office I’m responsible for will be allocated an additional 6 million dollars a year to put more than 25 additional deputy sheriff’s on the road.

Why is that important?

• WA state has the lowest officer per capita in the country, ranked 51/51 including District of Columbia

• Thurston County Sheriff’s Office has the second to last lowest deputy per capita in WA state, ranking 38/39 counties

• At any given point throughout the day, there are as few as 7 deputies working for an unincorporated population of 150,000 people covering 740 sq miles.

With that, we have two asks:

1. Consider donating even the smallest amount to our campaign to get this ballot measure passed as the Sheriff’s Office desperately needs the funding.

Just like my campaign for Sheriff last year, donated funds will be used to purchase signs, media time, advertisements, mailers, etc.

My executive staff and I have already made max contributions of $1200 each to lead the way.  Click here to donate.

2. Vote YES for public safety in November!”


Click here for the Invest in Public Safety campaign website.

Click here for the committee’s Public Disclosure Commission reports.


Click here to see Deputy Graves’ unedited 7/4/23 body cam video.


Feature image of Pete Hegseth and Derek Sanders from Fox News.



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