White Center Community Safety Coalition: Restore-the-deputy petition update; closer look at nearby schools; more

By Tracy Record
Editor/co-publisher, White Center Now and West Seattle Blog

After two months of gathering petition signatures urging the King County Sheriff’s Office to restore a White Center-dedicated deputy, leaders of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council plan to present them to Sheriff Sue Rahr next week.

That’s what NHUAC members Pat Price and Christine Waldman told those in attendance Thursday night at the White Center-South Delridge Community Safety Coalition meeting, back at its longtime location at St. James (9421 18th SW) – one of several major topics at the meeting.

When we talked recently with this area’s King County Councilmember Joe McDermott about the push to restore the deputy position, he pointed out that the ultimate decisionmaker is the sheriff herself – while McDermott and his council colleagues, as well as King County Executive Dow Constantine, craft and finalize the budget, the direct staffing and spending decisions for KCSO are made by Sheriff Rahr.

So Waldman and NHUAC president Barbara Dobkin plan to meet with her next Thursday to present the petitions, as well as lobbying the council and executive “to make sure to give her the money so she can fill that position” to get a dedicated sheriff’s deputy back to “community policing” on local streets.

If you haven’t signed the petition yet, there are copies in several White Center businesses, Waldman says, and you can sign the version posted online – just go here. As Waldman put it, the deputy in this position – like Deputies Jeff Hancock and the late Steve Cox, before – would “know what’s what, who’s the good guys, who’s the bad guys” and be “extra eyes” on the street. “We really need that in White Center.”

Community member Bob Price said, “We’ve got to keep the pressure on the County Council,” recalling the proposed public-safety sales-tax increase sent to voters last year, and defeated.

Other issues:

*Coalition leader Sean Healy read a letter from Councilmember McDermott promising to work on “policy changes” to help make North Highline safer. It appeared to have been written prior to his announcement yesterday of an ordinance for a moratorium on dance/entertainment clubs – as first reported here on WCN – which was brought up later in the meeting. Pat Price mentioned that comments will be taken by Jim Chan at King County DDES through the end of the month – that’s next week – on the requested business licenses for Club Reventón in the former Club Evo spot. She recalled some of the problems to which Evo had been linked. She and others noted that there did not seem to be any resolution yet on lingering Evo issues such as sprinklers and back taxes.

*The issue of public inebriation and loitering around White Center Plaza is reported to have eased because of a “trespass agreement.”

*White Center’s “drug take-back box” is a hit- with “a ton of drugs” dropped off, according to King County Sheriff’s Office.

*The state Liquor Control Board is working on “a couple of projects” in collaboration with KCSO, in the White Center and Burien areas. No specifics yet.

*Visitors from south West Seattle schools: New interim principal Chris Kinsey and nurse Alison Enochs from Chief Sealth International High School, and principal Jeff Clark from Denny International Middle School. The two schools are sharing a campus as of this fall, with a brand-new Denny building just completed adjacent to the recently renovated Sealth. The principals talked briefly about, as Clark put it, “connecting with our community any way we can” – the grand opening of his school is set for September 6th, one day before Seattle Public Schools start the new school year.

Healy asked the Sealth/Denny reps if they would be open to working with the coalition regarding anti-substance-abuse discussions, presenters, and programs – bottom line, yes, and they’ll have further conversations. Enochs also talked about intervention and outreach that the school has done in the past, and that the 9th graders had a “prevention meeting” last school year. Plus, she said, there are assessment/treatment services on campus, with community partners: “It really helps to be right there.”

At Denny, Clark said, the health, science, and PE curriculums work together in an integrated way to encourage “positive life choices.”

Academic topics and college readiness came up as well; Enochs noted that many Sealth graduates took advantage of the “13th Year” scholarship now available for one free year from South Seattle Community College. Kinsey said Sealth will have its biggest freshman class ever, and that it has the second-longest waitlist in the district for 9th grade (behind only Garfield).

For Denny, Clark spoke glowingly of the fact that among all the Seattle Public Schools serving those grades, his school ranked highest in terms of progress/growth. He mentioned a new “pre-engineering” class, and a 3-D printer. And his school’s annual “home visits” for new students just started; staffers actually go to the new students’ homes to meet them. He said they ask three questions: “Tell me more about your child; tell me your hopes and dreams for your child in the future; tell me, how can we partner with you to make those hopes and dreams a reality?”

Enochs noted that hopes and dreams play into problems like substance abuse; when she deals with students who are having a tough time, she asks them, “What’s your dream? Where are you going?” to figure out “where they have lost (the hopes and dreams),” to try to help them find their way back. To Healy’s suggestion of collaboration, she mentioned a group of 30 students, “Above the Line,” ready and willing to work on the issue, in a program that might not be continuing this year because of staff cuts.

And Clark brought up the resources issue too, speaking frankly about the effects of budget cuts, and the fact that the upcoming furlough day (next week) will take away one of two professional-development days that helped school staffers get ready for the new school year. “We need to make some changes in society,” he said. “It’s not OK that Washington is 43rd in the nation in per-pupil funding allocation.”

DEADLY SHOOTING: There was no formal agenda-item discussion of last week’s murder of 23-year-old Sweetheart Failautusi, but it came up toward meeting’s end. Elizabeth Gordon from Uncle Mike’s BBQ brought up the regional TV crews that came out for aftermath stories, and how their coverage differed – some focusing on what the community is doing to be safe, some focusing more on an erroneous observation of “a community on edge.” She said wryly, “We’re not on edge!” (By the way, there were no uniformed law-enforcement personnel present at the meeting, so there was no opportunity for an update on the investigation.)

The coalition usually meets the fourth Thursday of the month, 6 pm. You can find them on Facebook, too.

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One Response to “White Center Community Safety Coalition: Restore-the-deputy petition update; closer look at nearby schools; more”

  1. Elizabeth’s observation may be true for her, but not for everyone. While I don’t think those of us who were close to the shooting site are terrified, it certainly changes the feel of things. In the three plus years I’ve lived on 13th, I’ve become more concerned and feel less safe than when we originally moved in. I hope that we restore that deputy position, because I do think it helps. Kudos to everyone keeping their eyes and ears open, participating, and working to make things safer. It truly is a community effort.