WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Deputies searching for bank robber

October 12th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

Deputies are searching for a man who just held up the KeyBank in White Center. He is reported to be armed. No description or other details yet.

4:05 PM: Photo added. The bank is closed while deputies gather witness statements. No clear description yet but a getaway vehicle is believed to have been involved. Also, deputies told dispatch the robber gave bank employees a note threatening to shoot if they didn’t hand over cash.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

CRIME WATCH: Armed robbery at marijuana shop

September 17th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on CRIME WATCH: Armed robbery at marijuana shop

King County Sheriff’s Deputies are investigating a robbery that was just reported at Nimbin Pot Shop on 1st Avenue South in Top Hat. Deputies were told that three robbers – at least two with guns – held up the store. According to emergency-radio exchanges, they are still working on description information and whether they got away on foot or via vehicle.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Deadly shooting in North Highline

July 30th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

(WCN/WSB photo by Patrick Sand)

King County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer says the victim in a shooting near 28th/Roxbury last night has died. We don’t know anything about the victim yet except that, after being shot at least three times, he ran to the Shell station at that intersection before collapsing. Emergency responders worked to save his life before taking him to Harborview Medical Center, where he arrived in critical condition and died overnight. No one has been arrested yet in connection with the shooting, which deputies were told might have happened outside nearby Roxbury Lanes before the killer took off in a vehicle.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Office callout at Saar’s Super Saver Foods

July 19th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Office callout at Saar’s Super Saver Foods

3;59 PM: If you’re wondering what’s going on at Saar’s: Shoppers and staff were evacuated because deputies are dealing with a person in crisis. That’s all we know so far; we’re monitoring the situation.

5:09 PM: Not resolved yet. The person was armed with a knife, which is why the response is sizable.

5:33 PM: Deputies have the person, a 31-year-old man, in custody.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

FOLLOWUP: Fire that destroyed 7 White Center businesses now reclassified as arson

July 9th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Businesses, Fire, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on FOLLOWUP: Fire that destroyed 7 White Center businesses now reclassified as arson

(Also published on partner site West Seattle Blog)

(WCN/WSB photo, Monday)

Thanks for the tips. We’ve confirmed with the King County Sheriff’s Office that the fire which gutted the LumberYard Bar and seven other businesses in downtown White Center early Monday is now being investigated as arson. Though the original tentative determination was that it was likely accidental, KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer tells WCN that they received “new evidence” that led investigators to “reclassify it as arson.” Though the LumberYard has posted on social media that “This most likely is also a hate crime,” Sgt. Meyer would not speculate on a potential motive. Anyone with any information should contact KCSO.

We just went over to the fire scene to see if we could find out more; no one’s around, but we did photograph the signs asking for tips – 800-55-ARSON. That’s reiterated in this statement just sent by the White Center Pride Committee:

The White Center Pride Committee is deeply disturbed and saddened to learn that the fire at The Lumberyard Bar on July 5th has reportedly been reclassified from an electrical fire to arson. The possibility of this being a hate crime targeted at an LGBTQI+ gathering space is also being investigated. Not only was The Lumberyard Bar destroyed, but also 7 other businesses, many of which were minority owned.

We will continue to stand with all of the businesses and individuals that were impacted by this horrible act. Our community is strong and will never back down in the face of adversity. We implore anyone with information to reach out to the King County Sheriff’s Office with any information at 206-263-2070 or 1-800-55-ARSON.

The fire broke out after 1 am on Monday. No injuries were reported. But along with the LumberYard, it devastated neighboring businesses The Boxing Gym, La Tipica Oaxaqueña, John’s Hair and Nails, Rat City Tattoo, Nuggi (which was soon to open), and Dottie’s Doublewide (which was getting ready to reopen)

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: Shooting in downtown White Center kills 2

June 11th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 58 Comments »

(Texted photo)

3:58 PM: Sheriff’s deputies are arriving at the scene of a shooting reported on 16th SW near SW 98th in downtown White Center. One person is reported to have been shot. No one is reported in custody. Deputies are closing traffic on adjacent streets. “Multiple rifle and pistol casings” are reported (described as “40 cal and .223”). Avoid the area.

(WCN/WSB photos/video from here, by Patrick Sand)

4:17 PM: Deputies have told dispatch there may be a second victim who someone is taking to the hospital. Also, an additional car is reported to have a bullet hole. Meantime, dispatch has told deputies that “two people with gunshot wounds” are in the ER at Harborview Medical Center.

4:21 PM: And dispatch reports “a third” person was just “dropped off” at the hospital. And that’s all before the victim at the scene was taken there – a medic unit is just now departing White Center with that person.

4:32 PM: Our crew at the scene sent that photo of deputies with shell-casing markers outside Taradise Café. Deputies told dispatch that witnesses described the shooter as a Black man in his 30s wearing an orange hoodie, gray beanie, and light-blue jeans, He was reportedly shooting from “behind cover” of a vehicle parked nearby. A victim is reported to have been in this car that subsequently went up on the sidewalk and into the business building on the northeast corner of 16th/98th.

5:27 PM: Our crew is still at the scene and we expect a briefing soon by KCSO’s spokesperson; we’ll add the update when that happens. Also, if you’re noticing a helicopter – that’s TV.

5:52 PM: KCSO’s Sgt. Tim Meyer confirms four people were shot and says two have died. (added) He wouldn’t confirm anything else, but for the record, here’s our video of his briefing:

7:07 PM: We also added more photos inline above. Also note more gunshot damage – like this business window:

A commenter on our partner site West Seattle Blog says she saw the shooting happen, amid an apparent argument.

We’ll add any new details that emerge tonight and beyond.

10:15 PM: Deputies have told dispatch that roads are reopening.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

FOLLOWUP: White Center vandalism suspect arrested

May 21st, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 1 Comment »

6:09 PM: As reported here two weeks ago, the King County Sheriff’s Office knew who they were looking for in the serial business vandalism that’s plagued White Center – and now they’ve made an arrest. Announced by KCSO via social media:

The King County Sheriff’s Office is pleased to share an update to a May 4th post featuring a suspect who shattered a White Center business window using a rock.

Detectives in our Southwest Precinct, along with help from storefront and other deputies who know the White Center community best, identified the suspect. With the suspect’s name known, it took several days before they were located, then arrested.

Tuesday afternoon 05/18/2021, the suspect was booked into the King County jail for the 11th time since 2017. The suspect remains held without bail on a felony burglary charge.

7:10 PM: Despite the KCSO post mentioning that the suspect was still in jail, she’s not. The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office says the 30-year-old woman was released on personal recognizance Thursday, though prosecutors asked that she be held on $5,000 bail. She is not yet charged in this case – involving window-smashing at Macadon’s – but it’s under review by a deputy prosecuting attorney.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

FOLLOWUP: $250,000 bail set for driver who deputies say caused double-fatal Ambaum crash

April 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

More information this afternoon about the Ambaum crash that left two people dead on Tuesday just south of White Center. The woman blamed for causing the crash remains in jail, bail set at $250,000. She is 25 years old and court documents say she lives in West Seattle. Deputies say they found her in the Rainbow Mini-Mart parking lot, clearly intoxicated, and that she admitted to having been drinking. She told them she was driving home from her job on Beacon Hill and was “in a rush.” The documents say she was driving a white car and appeared to be “racing” a black car in the northbound lanes when she hit the blue car containing the victims, who spun into the path of oncoming southbound traffic. A red pickup’s driver was unable to stop in time to avoid hitting them. She faces possible charges of vehicular homicide and felony hit-run. The victims have not yet been publicly identified; the incident report describes them only as a man and a woman who appeared to be in their 30s.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: Crash at Ambaum/116th kills 2

April 6th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 7 Comments »

5:31 PM: Avoid Ambaum and 116th – King County Sheriff’s Office detectives are there investigating a two-car collision and they’re likely to be there a while. More when we get it.

6:38 PM: Just back from the scene, which is actually on Ambaum just south of 116th. In our photo, a King County Medical Examiner vehicle is at left. They are usually called in to investigate fatalities; KCSO is not confirming anything yet. Deputies at the scene told us the road should reopen soon; they were originally dispatched around 3:30 pm.

WEDNESDAY UPDATE: We followed up with KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer, who says, “Two lives were lost in this three-vehicle collision that began when the driver/suspect of a northbound (on Ambaum) sedan struck a hatchback, which caused it to rotate in front of a southbound pickup. It was the occupants of (the hatchback) who passed when they were stuck by the pickup. The suspect driver (sedan), who was believed to be impaired, was booked last night for two counts of vehicular homicide AND felony hit & run. The King County Sheriff’s Office MARR unit continues their investigation.”

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Rainbow Mini-Mart hit

March 3rd, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news Comments Off on WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Rainbow Mini-Mart hit

Deputies are launching a search right now for somebody who apparently drove into the Rainbow Mini-Mart at Ambaum/116th a short time ago. Radio communication indicates the car is still there but an “older white man wearing jeans and a tan shirt, carrying a box” was seen leaving on foot. A K-9 crew will be joining the search.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Myers Way shooting investigation

February 25th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Myers Way, White Center news 4 Comments »

King County Sheriff’s Deputies are in the 10600 block of Myers Way South right now, investigating a shooting. A woman reported a man had been shot, and described the person who did it as male, Asian, 5’10”, 165 pounds, long dark hair, wearing a red bandana, dark sweatshirt, and black pants. We don’t know the victim’s condition; medics have been dispatched. Deputies plan to use a K9 to search.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

WHITE CENTER CRIME WATCH: Robbery investigation

February 19th, 2021 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 2 Comments »

The King County Sheriff’s Office isn’t providing details but does confirm that Bartell Drugs at 15th/Roxbury was robbed this afternoon. Scanner traffic at the time indicated that the robber was suspected to have fled north into West Seattle, so deputies searched for a while, with a K9 team helping. No word of an arrest so far. We also don’t know whether the robber targeted the pharmacy – in West Seattle, at least three pharmacies have bren held up in the past week, and Seattle Police believe there are links to what they call a regional series of holdups.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

White Center Food Bank search, King County plans, more @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first 2021 meeting

February 7th, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center Food Bank, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The White Center Food Bank‘s search for a new home and King County reps’ update on local services headlined Thursday night’s online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council.

WHITE CENTER FOOD BANK: Associate executive director Carmen Smith was the guest. While she discussed WCFB’s search for a new home – since its current site is going to be redeveloped for affordable housing and other nonprofits’ headquarters – she offered some background and other updates first. WCFB is dedicated to ensuring that food is a right, not a privilege. WCFB has been around almost half a century.

COVID 19 has forced WCFB to switch to an outdoor grocery sort of model, Farmers’ Market-style.

Clients can visit the WCFB up to three times a month – here’s how their usage increased last year

“The community really showed up for us (last year),” Smith said.

Relocation has been at least four years in the making – even if they had chosen to be part of the redevelopment, they surveyed clients and found that the current location is “really hard to get to.” They were missing “a large pocket of northeast WC.”

They’ve been looking for a new home for “almost two years now and not having a lot of luck.” A property on 13th SW near Steve Cox Memorial Park looked good but someone else is buying it. They’ve looked at a wide range of possibilities and “nothing is the right fit.” They’ve got a few more to review, such as the former Bank of America building, finally on the market. Here’s what they’re looking for:

They really want to stay in WC but could move outside if it comes to that. Their deadline for getting out of the current location “might be within the next year” depending on how the permits for the redevelopment goes. “It’s super-scary,” Smith acknowledged.

Is the county helping? NHUAC’s Liz Giba asked. County Councilmember Joe McDermott said yes.

What about the never-used Top Hat quarantine site? “It looks kind of small,” Smith observed. McDermott said that could be a possibility – that site’s future is supposed to be decided with community consultation.

KING COUNTY: Councilmember McDermott was asked to offer some highlights of what’s going on. He started with the county’s COVID-19 response. He hit some recent highlights such as King County (and six others comprising two “regions”) moving to reopening phase 2 as of this past Monday. Vaccinations were the main topic of his e-newsletter last week (see it here).

He said it’s important for people to know they’re not alone in having trouble making appointments.

Though the county has never had to activate the aforementioned Top Hat quarantine site, it continues to maintain the site to be ready if needed, ‘for the duration of the pandemic.” He also acknowledged the ongoing interest in a Housing/Opportunity analysis for North Highline. There’s a similar type of review, for housing only, that’s been done and will be presented in a County Council committee; McDermott promised to let NHUAC know about hearings and meetings.

Next, KC Local Services director John Taylor presented updates. “We’ve been out a lot,” distributing masks and hand sanitizer, especially in unincorporated areas with a large low-income population:

Local Services also has been “working on getting local businesses to survive this pandemic”:

Community Needs List development is also big.

Money for participatory budgeting will come from sources including marijuana taxes.

Taylor also noted that Local Services’s major divisions have kept running throughout the pandemic – Road Services has been busy:

Permitting also has been going “full speed ahead,” Taylor said:

Then, Q&A: How will community members participating in the participatory budgeting be identified? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. “We don’t know yet,” said Taylor, but noted that racial equity will factor into it. McDermott said they’re “making sure we have a broad input to decide how to spend these funds.”

What’s being evaluated for mass-vaccination sites? McDermott was asked. He noted that Kent and Renton were chosen because of the transmission rates in those areas. County sites are meant to be stopgaps but if you have a health-care provider, that’s your first stop.

When will the fireworks-ban bill be on a committee agenda? he was asked. It has been re-introduced, and on February 17th at 9:30 am, it’ll go before the Committee of the Whole, he said.

Other discussion included the concentration of low-income housing in White Center, and potential zoning changes compounding existing “substandard development.” Taylor countered that now is the time to speak up about what you want to see in zoning. “To be sure, there’s a tradeoff between more density and quality of life in a community … but there’s also a sweet spot.”

Giba thanked the county for allotting masks and hand sanitizer to the North Highline Fire District and said NHFD will have a distribution event in March.

McDermott wrapped up by reflecting on the effects of the pandemic beyond health and economy … even something as seemingly simple as the fact this meeting had to be held online. “I hope we will build back better.”

KING COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE: Maj. Jeffrey Flohr spoke about an emphasis patrol held around the turn of the year, adding an extra car to Skyway/White Center – making three cars at that time instead of the usual two – for a few hours a night. That happened in a time of rising violence, drug problems, and traffic trouble.

Firearms crimes and “narcotic distribution crimes” have been a focus. Most of the latter have been people coming in from other communities to sell drugs and guns “to our residents” …. “people in crisis” that were being “preyed on.” He showed the results of just one night:

One suspect known to deputies had a lot of drugs on him “and we were really excited to get him off the streets. Maj. Flohr qlso showed fake Oxy pills that are actually made from fentanyl and are endangering people.

A traffic stop netted this gun and drugs.

Fury the drug-detection dog helped:

Dogs like Fury are NOT trained to detect marijuana, Maj. Flohr said … just illegal drugs. The table Fury is sitting on included drugs seized in White Center and elsewhere – worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Fake credit cards and tools to make them, too, plus thousands of dollars in cash; six people were arrested, and one child was taken into protective custody. “None of these people were from our area,” Maj. Flohr stressed, saying none were addicts, either – just involved in “business” with “poison.” In response to a question, he said the suspects are still in jail.

Here’s what KCSO is focusing on:

They are working on “wraparound services,” he said.

Whatever happened to Block Watches? asked an attendee. “We’re trying to get this going again,” said Maj. Flohr, as the result of many community comments.

Another question: What’s being done to address the root cause of all this? Best Starts for Kids is one thing, Taylor mentioned. also: Deputies are getting trained in LEAD, which has long been in the works for White Center, Flohr said.

Storefront Deputy Bill Kennamer‘s update was next. He said traffic complaints on 106th and 107th have been on his radar – literally – he spends time there clocking cars but is not detecting many speeders.

Commercial burglaries in the unincorporated South Park area and Beverly Park have been a problem – 9600 block of 4th Ave. S., “a very dark industrial neighborhood” – he’s met with businesses and discussed crime-prevention advice. Last month saw 8 commercial burglaries – “up a lot” – and 2 residential burglaries.

The 9800 block 18th SW problem house is believed to be linked to a trash problem that the county has cleaned up;

Kennamer is working on a case against the house.

Another recurring problem: RVs and abandoned cars. He tries to get RV dwellers into housing but “100 percent of the time it’s been unsuccessful,” he says. LEAD outreach services will be a game-changer, he believes. “There should be more counselors and advocates out in the area. Right now there are none.” Towing or impounding an RV is a last resort, said Maj. Flohr.

One last point – “a lady who is breaking windows in White Center” has behavioral issues and “we have nowhere to take her.” She broke windows on 16th SW with a hammer, he elaborated.

NEXT MEETING: 7 pm March 4th; watch for the link.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

February 1st, 2021 Tracy Posted in King County, King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline UAC, White Center Food Bank, White Center news Comments Off on THURSDAY: White Center Food Bank’s future, King County Local Services, more, @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

Big lineup this Thursday at the online meeting of the North Highline Unincorporated Area Council – here’s the preview:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where: North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting
When: Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 7 pm
How: Join Zoom Meeting: https://kingcounty.zoom.us/j/98750682577

Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode (all caps}: NHUAC2021

Unable to join via Zoom? Please Call: 1 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 987 5068 2577
Passcode: 956569157

Happy Groundhog Day to North Highline, movie buffs and Bill Murray fans! 2020 is over and 2021 offers new opportunities to support a healthy community that does not back away from our struggles. At our last meeting with Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon and Sen. Joe Nguyen, we heard that the White Center Food Bank (WCFB) may soon be displaced from its home near Dick Thurnau Memorial Park. WCFB’s Associate Executive Director Carmen Smith will join our first meeting of 2021 to update us on this essential community organization.

Because North Highline is an unincorporated area (not part of a city), King County serves as both our regional (county) and local (municipal) governments. Many of the decisions that will form our future are being made by King County Executive Dow Constantine and the King County Council and implemented by King County’s Department of Local Services. King County government is a common denominator for the people of North Highline. Its impact includes: COVID-19 to public health to economic and ethnic justice to segregation and discrimination to displacement, fair housing and opportunity to schools, parks and open spaces to density and permitting to roads and infrastructure, police, and public safety to fireworks and cannabis shops to taxes and the budget….

That is why NHUAC is pleased that we will also be joined by King County Councilmember Joe McDermott and John Taylor, Director of the Department of Local Services.

The King County Sheriff’s Office is another essential part of our community. This month we will be joined by Major Jeffrey Flohr and Deputy Bill Kennamer.

Knowledge is power.
Learn, share, and help make North Highline a better place.
Thursday, February 4, 2021 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor!

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Deputies searching for serial robbers

December 16th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Burien, King County Sheriff's Office, South Park, White Center news Comments Off on Deputies searching for serial robbers

If you noticed the KCSO response that closed Ambaum south of White Center earlier tonight, here’s what that was about: Deputies are searching for two robbers who held up a mini-mart at Ambaum/126th and then another store on 14th Avenue South near South Park. Not too many descriptive details so far – KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer tells WCN the robbers are described as two Black men in their 20s, one wearing a white hoodie, one in a black hoodie. They were last seen on foot but probably in a vehicle to get between those two scenes; no description of that yet. Deputies have been using K-9s in the search, and Guardian One briefly joined in the Burien search until the weather got bad.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: King County Sheriff’s Deputies investigating gunfire, crash in North Shorewood

December 7th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Shorewood, White Center news 1 Comment »

3:47 PM: Avoid the 26th/107th [map] intersection for a while. King County Sheriff’s Deputies are swarming the area after a 3-vehicle crash that followed gunfire from a car a short time ago; the intersection is blocked off.

One person is reported to be in custody and another possible suspect is being sought. The Guardian One helicopter was there for a while to help (and at least one TV helicopter showed up later). Deputies have described the car from which someone was shooting as a white BMW sedan. … We’re at the scene now, added a photo, working to find out how the injured people are doing.

4:41 PM: We just talked to KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Tim Meyer. He says the car that was being shot at is a Toyota Corolla carjacked in Seatac (updated) on Saturday; it collided with two other cars at 26th/107th. Two people were in the Corolla after the crash, 1 ran, and was subsequently found. All three plus two people from the other cars were hurt, but none by gunfire so far as authorities can tell. No major injuries. The car from which someone shot at the Corolla, after some kind of dispute, is still at large. The three people in the Corolla are described as in their teens.

KCSO expects the intersection to be closed for at least 2 more hours. We have all this on video and will add that when our crew’s back. (added) Here it is:

7:35 PM: Nearby resident Jim says the vehicles are being towed, so the intersection might not be closed much longer.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

UPDATE: Robbery investigation in Top Hat

November 29th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Crime, King County Sheriff's Office, Myers Way, Top Hat, White Center news 2 Comments »

King County Sheriff’s Deputies are arriving at the West Seattle Marijuana Store in Top Hat (10825 Myers Way S.) after a report that the shop was robbed at gunpoint. Deputies are looking for multiple suspects who are reported to have left on foot. You’ll see deputies taking up “containment” spots for some distance around the area. The robbers are described as 3 Black men in their 20s, wearing hoodies – one blue, one green, one gray – and at least two with backpacks. Updates if and when we get more information.

ADDED MONDAY: No new details except that no one’s been arrested, says KCSO.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

CRIME WATCH: Helicopter search; stolen car

October 19th, 2020 Tracy Posted in Crime, Helicopter, King County Sheriff's Office, White Center news 1 Comment »

Two notes tonight:

HELICOPTER: If you noticed Guardian One circling north White Center for a while earlier this evening – we didn’t know what that as about until we got a tip about a sizable response in the O’Reilly Auto Parts lot at 17th/Roxbury. There, we were able to talk briefly to a King County Sheriff’s Office sergeant; he told us they’re looking for a “fugitive” but would not elaborate further, aside from confirming that the helicopter presence was related. We’ll update if we find out more. (Added 9:10 pm: KCSO spokesperson Sgt. Ryan Abbott says the person they were seeking is “a homicide suspect wanted out of Seattle.”)

STOLEN CAR: Reported by Byron:

Our red 2007 Honda Civic 4-door, license plate 867WSD, was stolen from our driveway. Sometime between 9pm last night and 11:15 am this morning. (10600 block of) 27th Ave. SW. There’s a car seat in the back and a brand new Yakima rack and kayak carrier on the roof.

If you see it, call 911.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

Election in the spotlight as public-safety leaders visit North Highline Unincorporated Area Council’s first online meeting

October 11th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 1 Comment »

By Tracy Record
White Center Now editor

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council has finally arrived in the world of online meetings, and the first one, this past Thursday night, was as info-packed as their in-person meetings have historically been.

Though this one spotlighted public safety, with leaders from the North Highline Fire District and King County Sheriff’s Office, the real theme was the November 3rd election, with both departments having a lot at stake in ballot measures on which you will be voting.

NORTH HIGHLINE FIRE DISTRICT BENEFIT CHARGE: Assistant chief Ray Pettigrew opened by noting he has been with affiliated Fire District 2 for 35 years, and explained how the two districts consolidated at the start of last year after many years of cooperation.

He talked about the “benefit charge” changing the way NHFD is funded, starting six years ago after its 2014 passage, to take care of the problem with tax-exempt properties not contributing to the district funding. And he listed everything it’s enabled, as voters get ready to decide whether to renew it for 10 years. The charge “spread the cost out, made it more equitable,” Pettigrew explained, and led to a small decrease in what homeowners pay. The charge enabled the consolidation, and also led to a rating agency upgrading the department’s rating, which is good news for property owners’ insurance rates – the rating is now a 3 (1 is the best). The department also was able to buy two new fire engines that are based at Station 18. “We’re a very busy fire department,” with 11,000+ calls last year, he said, and the engines that were replaced had a lot of miles on them.

The stable funding also has enabled them to station an aid car at Station 18 most days – “it increases our ability to answer emergency calls by almost 50 percent.” They’ve upgraded air packs, and added a public educator, too. Also: A local firefighter is helping with the COVID-19 testing area that has been opened in Tukwila; Pettigrew said they were looking for other sites, maybe even White Center, but couldn’t find an available property. King County is reimbursing them for the firefighter’s work. Last but not least, they’re working on an “FD CARES” response unit – “usually an SUV” with a firefighter and nurse or social worker – to answer certain kinds of “low-acuity calls and works with the person to address their needs in a more appropriate manner.” King County Public Health has provided some funding for this. They’re hoping to have the unit up and running early next year. “We think we’ve been very good stewards of your tax dollars,” summarized Pettigrew, pitching for the renewal.

What if it’s not approved? asked NHUAC’s Barbara Dobkin. Reply: The property tax rate would go back up, and the FD would have to re-evaluate what it’s doing. What’s the rate and is it different from the last one? It’s been fairly consistent and is expected to continue that way – “approximately $1.50 per thousand” (dollars of property valuation).

KING COUNTY SHERIFF: KCSO sent several reps to the meeting, starting with the sheriff herself, Mitzi Johanknecht.

She talked about the every-decade county-charter-amending process. Two amendments on the November 3rd ballot would affect KCSO: Amendment #5, which would change the sheriff back to an appointed, rather than elected, position, more than 20 years after the previous change. She’s the fifth elected sheriff, in her first term, which started in early 2018. If Amendment #5 passes, the County Executive would appoint the sheriff, with County Council approval. Then the council put Amendment #6 on the ballot – “having an elected sheriff, but with conditions … that the King County Council would create an ordinance … that determines the roles and responsibilities of the sheriff.” Currently, state laws regulates sheriffs’ roles.

Dobkin mentioned hearing County Executive Dow Constantine talk about the measure on a podcast and say that since people who aren’t in the sheriff’s jurisdiction get to vote for them, changing the law made more sense. Johanknecht noted that other countywide officials are voted on by all county voters too. But, she noted, KCSO does have countywide responsibilities – Metro and Sound Transit policing, among other things. “I also think it’s important that if you’re voting for a sheriff, the sheriff should have a standalone opportunity to represent you.”

If it went to an appointed position, might that lead to cuts/changes? Johanknecht said the COVID-19 crunch has already required some cuts, so she cut some vacant positions, “the least amount of FTEs possible” so it wouldn’t harm 911 response and crime-solving. NHUAC’s Liz Giba said she’d heard the marijuana-tax money had been pulled from KCSO – was that true? The sheriff said that’s a complicated issue but it’s not resulting in any cuts/changes. She also noted that 58 percent of the KCSO budget is revenue-backed – maybe the only county agency that brings in this much money helping cover its budget.

What sort of anti-racism reforms has KCSO been working on? The sheriff said reform is one of the major things she ran to accomplish. She says her deputies now have “less-lethal tools” and that they’ve developed new policies for the critical-incident review board, plus they’ve been training in de-escalation and crisis intervention – 48 hours of the latter, “years ahead of what the state is going to demand.” They’ve also gone through implicit-bias training, and are wrapping up investigations of social-media posts that drew attention and concern. She said the issue has made her job “the most important thing I’ll ever do in my life.”

The budget includes full funding for the KCSO storefront locations, including White Center, she said, in response to a question.

She was followed by Manny Apostol, the new community-engagement specialist for KCSO, a longtime department employee. Listening to communities is his task – here are the slides outlining what he’ll do:

He was asked how he’s working on rebuilding trust with Southeast Asian communities in the wake of the Tommy Le killing. He said he’s been reaching out to groups.

STOREFRONT DEPUTY BILL KENNAMER: He talked about a problem house in the 1800 block of SW 98th that’s finally been cleared out – the eviction moratorium pushed the handling of the situation back several months. They were evicted “due to the criminal activity associated with the house,” he said. “That was the worst house in White Center right now,” he said. Among other things, one of the people associated with the house “was a murder suspect with a $2 million warrant.” Kennamer said one neighbor told him he’s had the first night in a long time that he wasn’t awakened by some trouble at that house. But there are others, it was noted.

Other wide-ranging discussion included the murals on many businesses being a graffiti-vandalism deterrent.

Dobkin also mentioned traffic issues diverting off Roxbury, which in turn is a lot busier because of the West Seattle Bridge closure. Kennamer agreed, “The traffic is absolutely ridiculous” and “going to be frustrating for a very long time.” Dobkin said it’s a safety issue with people “flying through our streets” on streets without sidewalks. Kennamer said he’d reach out to Roads – maybe a stop sign on 106th could help, “so they can’t pick up so much speed.” He also advised “don’t walk with your back to traffic.”

What about mail theft? Kennamer was asked. “If you see it, call us quick, because they’re gone quick.” Locking mailboxes can help but some people even use saws to cut them down.

MAJOR JEFF FLOHR: He’s now the KCSO Southwest Precinct commander. The area always has at least two deputies on duty, he said. He started out talking about the “use of force” dashboard, which he said would show “how rarely we use force.”

His main topic: White Center is one of the areas where KCSO is about to run a pilot camera program – in-car and body-worn. 10 deputies will be using the cameras for 90 days, working in different areas.

He went over the functions and policies they’ll be testing.

At the end, they’ll evaluate and document what they learned, “identify the features we want if funding is provided for full implementation” – right now, it’s NOT budgeted.

Flohr also said they’re “ready to go” with the LEAD program in White Center/North Highline, just waiting for some documentation with a service provider to be finalized. Asked to refresh memories, he gave an example – say deputies respond to a mentally ill shoplifter, they deal with a team of people trying to get that person help, “trying to keep people out of jail and get them the services they need … it’s exactly what the communities have been asking for, they just don’t know that we’ve been doing it.”

CHIEF JESSE ANDERSON: He talked about “8 can’t wait” policy changes: No chokeholds unless it’s a force-type situation “last resort,” de-escalation, requiring warning before shooting, duty to intervene, no shooting at moving vehicles (unless deputies are trapped), among other things.

Regarding policing reform, he acknowledged that many of their calls are more “quality of life issues” than crimes, but he also said staffing is at the lowest level it could be while still allowing them to respond to calls.

NEXT MEETING: NHUAC plans to continue via Zoom for the foreseeable future – the meetings are usually first Thursdays at 7 pm – watch nhuac.org for updates. Next time, the North Highline Sub-Area Plan will be a spotlighted topic.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button

THURSDAY: Public safety spotlighted @ North Highline Unincorporated Area Council

October 6th, 2020 Tracy Posted in King County Sheriff's Office, North Highline Fire District, North Highline UAC, White Center news 4 Comments »

As previously mentioned, the first pandemic-era North Highline Unincorporated Area Council is set for this Thursday, October 8th, online. Here’s the announcement with full details:

The Opportunity to Be Informed, Be Involved and Be Heard!

Where? North Highline Unincorporated Area Council Meeting

When? Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 7 pm

How? (Here’s the link)
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

Dial-in: 253 215 8782
Meeting ID: 946 9398 2872
Passcode: 179306

NHUAC Is Baaaack!!! NHUAC’s first meeting since February will be held Thursday, October 8th at 7 pm. It is going to be a virtual meeting via Zoom so it will be different, but the goal will be the same: To provide an opportunity to be informed, involved, and heard about issues affecting North Highline.

COVID-19 has changed our lives. We have been staying home to stay safe. Meanwhile, what has been happening in White Center, Top Hat, Boulevard Park, other North Highline neighborhoods? What is about to happen? To help us catch up and prepare, NHUAC’s October 8th meeting will focus on our first responders.

Have you ever called 911 because of a fire or medical emergency? If so, you know how important the North Highline Fire District is to our community. Assistant Chief Ray Pettigrew will discuss NHFD and ballot measure NHFD Proposition No. 1 to continue the Benefit Charge.

The climate around policing has gotten intense. King County’s response requires our serious consideration. If Charter Amendment No. 5 passes, voters will give up their right to vote for Sheriff. According to the King County Elections website, “The next sheriff would be appointed by the county executive and confirmed by the county council.” Charter Amendment No. 6 would transfer much of the Sheriff’s control over KCSO to the King County Executive (currently Dow Constantine) and the King County Council.

Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht will discuss these issues and others specific to North Highline. We will also be joined by Chief Jesse Anderson, who recently left Precinct 4 to become head of the Patrol Operations Division. Major Jeffrey Flohr, Precinct 4’s new Commander; Manny Apostol, KCSO’s new Community Engagement Specialist; and last, but certainly not least, Deputy Bill Kennamer will also join us.

Knowledge is power.

Do not miss this chance to learn and help make North Highline a safer place!

October 8, 2020 at 7 pm – Tell a Neighbor

AddThis Social Bookmark Button