Crime updates and sex offender info @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s public-safety forum

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

Another information-packed public-safety forum was presented by the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council last Thursday night at the NH Fire District HQ:

AREA CRIME UPDATE: Deputies BJ Myers and Mary Syson led the briefing. She works 2-10 pm and is usually one of two deputies in the area on swing shift, she said – “Write to your King County Councilmembers, we need more officers!” How many officers would be optimal? At least three at any given time, she said. There are always two on, though, any shift, around the clock. When she comes on shift, there are usually calls holding.

(Staffing concerns arose again when a transit deputy spoke saying that at times only six officers from that department are staffing the entire area served by Metro.)

Deputy Myers spoke of recent arrests involving burglary suspects on both sides of the city/county line – many charges filed, many more – detectives are bringing in victims to identify property and get it back to them. “It’s been great, we don’t always get to see the property returned to the people,” he said.

He then went on to show the September crime map. Nothing too much out of the ordinary, he said; crimes are coming down from a July peak, “pretty typical this time of the year as the weather gets cold, kids go back to school, fewer people out and about.”

Motor-vehicle thefts had something of a spike in July and August.

Theft trend that might surprise you: If you have an outdoor outlet in a publicly accessible place – you might consider finding a way to not have it accessible, because more and more such outlets are being used – to charge phones among other things – amounting to power theft that suddenly turns up on the victims’ bills.

“Have you seen a change (in crime, etc.) since Nickelsville moved out (of Highland Park)?” Deputy Myers was asked. His answer: “No.”

On the prevention front, advice from Deputy Syson: Home security is vital. Outdoor lighting, in particular – “criminals don’t like to be lit up.” Also, she echoed “follow your intuition – call us. Get a plate. Vehicle license plates are great – we can maybe figure out where they live. If you guys don’t call us, we don’t know there’s an issue going on in your neighborhood.”

SEX OFFENDERS: Detective Michael Luchau from the King County Sheriff’s Office Registered Sex Offender Unit – a subset of the Special Assault Unit – gave the featured presentation, which he said was basically what he presents to neighborhoods after Level 3 offenders move in – or used to; because of low attendance, they don’t always have meetings – they might just circulate the notice.

14 people are in the unit, including 9 detectives, and he’s one of them. He also went back to the offender-registration law’s roots – the 1988 Diane Ballasiotes case and the case of Helen Harlow‘s son, leading to the Community Protection Act. The national requirement dates back to 1996, following the kidnapping and killing of Megan Kanka in New Jersey two years earlier.

He also went through background of how long offenders are required to be registered – anywhere from 10 years to lifetime (the latter is mandatory for a Class A felony, which includes first- or second-degree rape and/or first-degree child molesting). Level one offenders are not required to register – unless they are “noncompliant” and that level usually means “no violent history, usually know their victims.” They are rated with various “tools” including police reports, court files, criminal history, pre-sentencing psychological reports.

What happens while they are in jail/prison can affect their classification too – Det. Luchau gave an example of someone “continuing to act out their deviancy.”

Notification about a homeless offender generally “depends on the risk level.”

*Almost 4000 sex offenders in King County right now, he said, and almost half are level 1 – the lowest risk level, while 323 are classified level 3, the highest.

There are 333 in this precinct, which also includes Burien, Vashon, and Skyway. 53 of them are in North Highline, 32 level 1, ten level 3.

20,315 sex offenders are in the state in all, and of them, the detective said, about 708 are in violation of the registration laws, and nobody knows where they are. But if they have registered and are following the rules, there are no other rules/guidelines they have to follow, at least one attendee was surprised to hear. But Det. Luchau stressed – you don’t need to be afraid of (most of) them, just be aware.

Being aware is vital – children are sexually assaulted in much higher numbers than you might expect, such as, one of every three girls has been assaulted by age 16. He also talked briefly about trusting instincts – don’t hesitate to report a suspicious person, maybe someone who seems to be at the park watching kids; be clear about your concerns so that police can at least check on them. Also – be sure you know a lot about anyone who would be caring for your child without supervision, and know a lot about the situation at a house your child is going to visit. “If you don’t feel comfortable with the situation, don’t send them (there)!” said the detective.

Are there halfway houses? asked NHUAC council member Liz Giba, noting that notifications seemed to include the same addresses for multiple offenders. “There are some group homes,” acknowledged the detective. And, he said, there are some group homes that try to pretend they’re not – sometimes by claiming to be “clean and sober” houses.

To find out more about sex offenders in your area, has the listings of level 2 and level 3 everywhere in the county – look for the link on the left sidebar. The lookup tool also enables you to sign up for e-mail alerts if a “published offender registers in your area.” It’ll give you more information on the offender’s background.

For the entire state, you can go to – all registered sex offenders in the state, level two and three.

There’s also the National Sex Offender Public Website.

Don’t ever assume you know how a sex offender looks – they come in all sizes, shapes, etc., he said.

“Why aren’t these people locked up for good?” Some are locked up tfn.

But he also warned that people should use the knowledge responsibly – the notification act could be canceled if it leads to many incidences of harassment, vigilantism, etc. – and authorities do not want to lose it as a tool.

So what happens when an offender gets out of prison/jail? Nobody’s holding that offender’s hand, as Luchau put it. And, as an audience question pointed out, failure to register may just be a misdemeanor. But in other cases, it could be a Class B felony, sending the offender back to prison for longer than their original sentence.

What if you look someone up – is there any chance they might still be on the map even if they are no longer in that neighborhood? Maybe, said the detective, so you’ll want to try alternate lookups to check on that person’s status, as many public records as you can find.

WHAT’S NEXT: According to NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin, the next public-safety forum probably won’t be until March, but they will continue monthly NHUAC meetings on first Thursdays.

Two community announcements:

WHITE CENTER KIWANIS: They’re selling See’s Candy bars for $2/bar, with more than $1 funding their service projects.

COALITION FOR DRUG FREE YOUTH: NHUAC councilmember Elizabeth Gordon says the coalition is circulating a survey on alcohol/drug use, and provided copies; they’re accepting filled-out surveys at her family business, Uncle Mike’s Superlicious Barbecue. The survey will be linked on the NHUAC website.

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3 Responses to “Crime updates and sex offender info @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s public-safety forum”

  1. Thanks for the writeup!

  2. On observing the many traffic infractions occurring (speeding, running red lights, tail gating you name it), a traffic enforcement officer is needed as a minimum requirement for local safety in our neighborhood. We feel that fines generated would help pay for, if not exceed, his or her salary. We met with our 8th District Councilman but he disagrees. An e-mail to him might help convince him of the need.

  3. It is important to note that Sheriff Urquhart’s 2014 budget request to Executive Constantine included funding for 12 new deputies, 5 new sergeants, 3 DUi and 3 traffic deputies. The executive’s budget that was submitted to the King County Council only included funding for 3 new deputies and 1 sergeant for all the unincorporated area (this is for ALL of unincorporated King County). Sheriff Urquhart noted in his testimony before the KCC on Oct 2 that the unincorporated areas are staffed at .7-.8 deputies per thousand – while contract cities are staffed at 1.25 -1.5 per thousand. He stated it takes 6 full time deputies to raise the staffing by one. He also went on to say that there is a disproportionate number of fatalities in the unincorporated areas that he directly related to the limited number of deputies in the unincorporated areas. There is still time to let your voice be heard. If this information concerns you, please email, call, write letters or show up at one of the KCC budget hearings and let the council know that we need more deputies.