At North Highline Unincorporated Area Council: Club Evo, Deputy Hancock, more
From the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meeting – Capt. Carl Cole and Major Jim Graddon from King County Sheriff’s Office are the main event. Nothing dramatic in the crime-stat briefing they gave first – but then, the big issues:
CLUB EVO TROUBLE: First, regarding Club Evo – which Capt. Cole described casually as “riots in the street” – he says, “We’re having a … challenge, with Club Evo” and mentioned a meeting back on Tuesday (apparently the same one mentioned during Thursday’s White Center Community Safety Coalition meeting). “The bottom line is, we have a number of agencies that have their hands in sort of regulatory situations with Club Evo – licensing, taxing, code enforcement, us … from a very open and objective perspective, every one of those groups has a violation or something to investigate with that business, so we came together to say, what can we do about this?” He described it as “an attractive nuisance” drawing “people from outside our area … who don’t have the same ownership of the area, and are causing a lot of problems.” He estimates there were 60 cars that recent Friday night, “and we were hosing everybody down with our industrial-strength drums of pepper spray. … These are volatile situations and we can’t tolerate that happening every Friday and Saturday night.”
Capt. Cole also has clarified the reason the Fire Marshal violations didn’t keep the club closed: “There are alternatives to sprinklers … like a physical fire watch, and that’s the agreement was made, and that’s why they were allowed to reopen.” White Center business owner and Legislature candidate Geoffrey “Mac” McElroy asked the KCSO duo, “So what can we as a community do?” Capt. Cole offered two suggestions: “Talk to the owner of Club Evo … and start writing letters to (the different entities that can enforce the laws that are being violated).” He says “we’re putting everything into it that we can” and says “we’re basically putting our entire Gang Unit into it on Friday and Saturday nights,” though “there are other gang problems in King County we’d like to deal with.”
(Maj. Graddon also confirmed that deputies are no longer allowed to hire on for “off-duty work” at Evo because it would be a conflict of interest given the alleged violations there.)
Capt. Cole has also revealed he is now focusing on Burien and has been replaced with Capt. Pat Buschley (we’re checking the spelling on that) for the White Center (etc.) area.
DEPUTY JEFF HANCOCK: Maj. Graddon first talked about Deputy Hancock’s move and distributed the letter that we published here earlier today, saying he felt it’s self-explanatory. He says it is an intense job and sometimes you don’t “I support him 110 percent in stepping off the storefront position” “he would love to work day shift Vashon because of where he lives and his family considerations … we are reaching a compromise so we have been able to accommodate him to a degree … he’s working some Vashon, some mainland … he’s soon going to get to go to his second-choice shift, graveyard, which will make it much more convenient with his five children, one on the way .. Have we had complaints invesigated up here? Certainly. A recent sustained complaint? No. As commander of the precinct … I make the decision and this is the outcome of things that he is facing in his life.”
He also mentions that all the storefront deputies have had to move out of the storefronts because of a personnel shortage, “We’ve had to pull them out of the storefront positions to do reactive patrol … while still trying to stay involved with the community … I don’t know how soon that situation is going to change” – he mentions that budgetary considerations remain paramount, and they’re hearing that up to 70 more positions could be cut in unincorporated areas, in which case, “We won’t have storefronts at all.”
Maj. Graddon says he doesn’t know why some people feel they’ve been lied to regarding this situation. He acknowledges that Deputy Hancock “has done a remarkable job.” He talked almost emotionally about what it was like for Deputy Hancock to fill Deputy Steve Cox’s shoes, and says he has done it maybe too well. He uses the word “addiction” – and how law-enforcement officers may get too caught up in your work. He doesn’t use the phrase “unhealthy relationship” but you might read that between the lines; he said, “When you have a dependency that starts to form when you feel he is the only thing between you and rampant crime in the streets … then Carl and I haven’t done our jobs … it’s not safe for him to continue to draw that much out of himself for the community. … This is where we find ourselves. I have not lessened my commitment to this community. … I’m still standing in front of you tonight, I didn’t have to, I could have handed this off, but this is important to me, you are important to me.”
Council member Patrick Mosley brings up the point that Dep. Hancock did not ask to leave White Center patrol, just the storefront. Maj. Graddon said yes, Hancock could patrol this area, but “I want to make sure that we are not still sucking the life out of him … there’s a healthiness issue that we need to be mindful of. He’s not leaving the precinct, he’s still an asset, he’s still part of our police force out here as much as all of our folks are.” Capt. Cole affirms, “He’s not restricted from patrolling White Center – it’s his choice (not to).”
Mosley follows up, “My concern with someone who’s put as much into the community as he can, the next officer is going to be starting from square one.” Maj. Graddon acknowledges that’s correct, but says Hancock’s “not the only person responsible for taking care of business” – another deputy who’s patroling the area, for example, has been in White Center for several months and, they say, is doing well.
McElroy asked if there will be a replacement – for now, no, says Maj. Graddon, because of the staffing uncertainties; he wants to see how July goes – he doesn’t want to get someone attached to the storefront when it might even be temporary. The captain and major are applauded after the Q/A ends.
(Later in the meeting, it was suggested that during White Center Jubilee Days, the NHUAC booth offer people the chance to write messages of thanks to Deputy Hancock. So at WCJD, be on the lookout for that.)
NUISANCE CONCERNS: Council member Barbara Dobkin says she takes the bus home and has seen an increasing number of problems – an assault, open drinking, prostitution. Capt. Cole says he hears anecdotes about this but not enough people are calling in to report it – so they’re not on record – but that’s “really important for us to get the calls.” They “may not be able to roll on it right away – but in order for us to make an argument to the King County Council that we can’t operate at the staffing level they’ve given us, we have to get the 911 calls.” The captain says not to worry about which line you call – emergency or non-emergency – they’re answered by the same people, who will make the decision on routing. “I say that to everybody – YOU GOTTA CALL US … you won’t be a nuisance.”
BURIEN BRIEFING: As usual (though he was unavailable last month), Burien City Manager Mike Martin briefed the council. (added Friday morning). Toplines: Burien City Hall North has issued its first business license … major road-paving program is about to start, with $9 million in bonds to be sold in August, which is when they’ll the “overlay” work – Ambaum’s the first road that’ll be done, from the northern border (112th) to 156th … Burien’s budget cycle is beginning and they do NOT anticipate layoffs or furlough days. Message to city employees, says Martin: “We’re suffering through the same thing as everybody else, but we don’t have the drama.” A “community survey” will go out in July asking Burien residents “big questions,” such as “do you feel safe” – “We’re not looking for data, we’re looking to find out how people feel,” Martin elaborated. Final note of interest: Burien is trying to move its car lots off 1st Avenue South into a new “car park” and looking for other dealers to join the project.
KING COUNTY BROWNFIELDS: We covered a sort of pre-session on this last month (here’s that story). The county team briefing the council says it’s a redevelopment project, not just a cleanup project. The project has a three-year grant, and they’re now working to figure out what the sites are going to be. They’re also pointing out that they are developing information on sites’ history so that if you want to buy property and it has history – say, as a gas station – there’s a way you can find out. Here’s more info about the program. (They also note that they’re continuing to look into the Hicks Lake situation, which had drawn some questions previously, regarding what its true level of toxicity actually is – the brownfields team says they would be looking for actual toxic substances, not something like algae, but research continues.) So how do people get involved with the program, WCCDA’s Virgil asks. There’s not a formal process, the team replies – but they’d be happy to meet with WCCDA or anyone else who’s interested, to talk more about possibilities.
LIBRARY: Council member Ron Johnson is reading a letter from the county library system pointing out that they are postponing capital improvement projects in this area until annexation – whether Seattle or otherwise – for the adjoining area is settled, because that raises questions about what area the library ultimately will serve. The library system will continue to provide operational support, the letter goes on to say.
The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council meets the first Thursday of each month, 7 pm, North Highline Fire Department HQ.
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