LETTER: Thoughts on Burien Police’s Contract with King County Sheriff’s Office

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*** Please note that the following scenarios do not apply to situations, like the recent Pawn shop robbery, where lives are in danger.

The Burien Police Department (BPD) is contracted through the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO). The contract allows us to concentrate our resources in patrol and investigations. We do not carry or pay for the overhead of having our own SWAT or other less used, and expensive, resources unless and until we need them. This provides a cost savings to the Burien tax payer.

Currently, BPD regularly provides “mutual aid” and is provided mutual aid to/from KCSO in North Highline. That means if we’re short an officer or they’re short a deputy it’s not normally THAT big of a deal to help each other out.

The KCSO West Precinct is responsible for patrolling Vashon Island, North Highline, West Hill-Skyway and the unincorporated areas West of Auburn south to the Pierce County line.

However, due to the continuing general fund issues with KCSO they are reorganizing how they patrol so they pay out less overtime. What this means is that if a deputy is on sick/vacation they will no longer bring in a deputy on overtime. They will instead stretch out the coverage and service area of each deputy meaning lower levels of service to those unincorporated areas. The level of service to North Highline will suffer as a result.

How this will impact Burien is that deputies may be pulled out of North Highline to cover a shortage in West Hill or other unincorporated areas. Our officers may be used to help cover North Highline when needed, but when we need KCSO they will be spread thinner.

Another detriment to Burien would be if Seattle were to annex North Highline. Those deputies that help out Burien officers would no longer be available.

Seattle is very guarded with its resources. A perfect example is the “Sliver by the River” and fire protection. Seattle, thus far, has refused to contract fire protection in the area. That means even though Seattle Fire station 26 is closer, North Highline Fire is normally the first to respond. This is an area that Seattle will most likely begin annexing next year by Inter-Local agreement with King County.

In my opinion, that means the chances of SPD “helping out” Burien for non-code-3 calls are slim to none.

– Joey Martinez

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20 Responses to “LETTER: Thoughts on Burien Police’s Contract with King County Sheriff’s Office”
  1. Eaton B. Verz says:

    Joey, I hope I understand you correctly. When we need extra officers ( A surge I believe you called it) They might not be available depending on who shows up that given day? And this would not matter if we annexed or not. Correct? If that is correct than what would your solution be? Eaton

    • Joey Martinez says:

      What I previously referred to as a surge is a part of the potentially proposed “Cops and Kids” initiative. That particular initiative is meant to deal with the PERCEPTION that Burien is a crime-ridden city. It doesn’t matter that Burien has comparable crime rates to most of our neighboring cities, perception is “reality” in this case and it is hurting us economically. “Cops and Kids” is viewed as an economic tool more than a crime fighting tool.

      If I understand your questions correctly:
      If North Highline is annexed into Burien (regardless if Cops and Kids passes) most of those deputies would become Burien Police Officers. We’d pay for them and they’d be our officers.

      As for a sick/on vacation officer. It would be up to the Chief of Police, who reports to the City Manager and not the KCSO, on how they would handle that. I believe the current policy is to bring in BPD officers in on Overtime to cover that missing officer.

      Regardless if North Highline stays unincorporated, or is annexed by a city: Burien could become more guarded with our police department (like SeaTac) and not allow our officers to provide mutual aid (except in Code-3 situations) to the county. That could negatively impact an unincorporated North Highline, especially if Cops and Kids passes.

      Joey Martinez (and before anyone brings it up – I’m on vacation today!)

      • William Forest says:

        Joey your post only shows we don’t have enough police to go around and frankly the 15 extra police that Burien is willing to hire will not be enough. Also according to your letter it sounds like we will be paying a lot of overtime (not budgeted) IF Mike Martin approves it or we will just have LESS police service than we have now.

        Seattle’s analysis indicated they would need 45 to police the area sufficiently.

        Would you mind referencing the sources you used to come with the conclusions you came to in your letter? I have found that you tend to overlook a lot of pertinent details in your number crunching analysis’s.
        For example when you looked at the Nesbitt Report you failed to mention the $1 million dollars to provide for 911 service to be added to the NH Fire Station.
        Another example is your analysis(?) of the CIP. Go back and recheck your Bible (the Berk report) and check out how much $$ Burien has to send to Area Y .. I did your homework for you >>> Its Ten Million $$!

        I would suggest in the future to either do your homework or add a caveat that this is what your opinion is rather than presenting them as facts.
        Also please quote your sources, then we don’t have to go back and ask you for them and check for those pesky details you have a tendency to overlook.

        • Joey Martinez says:

          William, thanks for the reply. I’ll focus on the Police aspects of your question.

          William, remember that we talked last year (in comments) about how there was $200k returned to the General Fund from the KCSO contract that was unused? That was budgeted monies for Police work (SWAT callout, homicide investigations, etc) that Burien did not need to pay for.

          We currently benefit from the KCSO in North Highline. One situation that could impact Burien is if Seattle annexes North Highline. Those extra deputies will no longer be there to support BurienPD officers when we need them. One situation that WILL impact Burien is the reorganization of the KCSO to reduce their overtime.

          Here is where i will once again recommend you meet with the chief or another representative of the KCSO. The Seattle model and the Burien model of policing are completely different. Seattle pays for SWAT, homicide, marine, mounted police, riot… etc whether they need the service or not. We can focus all of our resources on Patrol and investigations so Burien’s lower number goes father. Portions of the Seattle number for 45 officers for North Highline are appropriated to all other aspects of Policing (not Patrol and investigations).

          The Nesbitt reports were written before the Southern Portions of North Highline were annexed. The data has changed since then. They are still relevant, however, they need to be looked at in that regard.

          My sources are the publicly available documents. Also I’ve taken the time to meet with the chief of Burien as well as an LT with SPD intimately familiar with the SPD plan (which is old and out of date but close enough for gov’t work). The biggest source is talking to those who implement the plans and decipher all that police speak down to layman’s terms.

          Joey Martinez

          • William Forest says:

            Joey the 200K you talk about is in the general fund and is probably allocated elsewhere now. Besides its a drop in the bucket compared to what you missed in your previous letter on the CIP analysis from the Berk Report of $10 Million that Burien will be required to send to Area Y in the FIRST TWO YEARS after annexation. Where is that money coming from?

            The reason I bring this up again and why its on topic is your explanation of where you got the information in your letter that you characterize as facts, whereas in reality they are just your opinion. An opinion apparently arrived at by questioning a couple of police officials or their administrative representatives? I guess you have added journalist to your collection of geek, technocrat and bureaucrat hats? Lol

            The problem I have with this Joey is that a real journalist who is interested in an objective conclusion does not form an opinion until after gathering all the pertinent data. On the other hand you had already arrived at an opinion of what the conclusion should be and were seeking reasons to justify that conclusion. This is why you often miss pertinent details because you are asking questions that support your point of view and unlike an objective data collector not asking the ones that don’t.

            Also there is the Mike Martin Factor. As you mentioned the police chief of Burien serves at the pleasure of the city manager and is unlikely to say anything to you or anyone else that conflicts or undermines the Martin party line. My understanding is our chief is close to retirement so its very unlikely he would be willing to say anything to rock the boat at this time in his career. Please do not take this in any way as a criticism of his job performance, which imo is superlative and any city would be lucky to have him as chief.

            On another subject I dislike the way you compare the current annexation attempt by Burien to what annexation by Seattle would be like since you don’t really have a clue what the details of that would be if that came up before the voters some time in the distant future (no one does really). Area Y residents could also vote that down if they did not like the idea.

            Joey the ONLY PERTINENT alternative to annexation by Burien is keeping the status quo they have now and have had for decades which is management by King County and keeping NHUAC the forum where residents can be heard. Frankly unlike Burien I find them open, inclusive and responsive. Also unlike Burien they don’t have a city manager with his own agenda telling them what to do. They are really much better off than we are here in Burien with Mike Martins mismanagement and a city council that is happy to let him drive the bus where ever he likes regardless of the complaints of the residents.

            So I question your methods and your sources. I suggest that if you were really interested in looking at the complete picture you would have interviewed a representative of the KCSO which would have been as I mentioned earlier far far more relevant to the current annexation attempt by Burien than interviewing someone connected to SPD who is not a major player in this.

            In conclusion you state you used publicly available documents but you never revealed what they were? What were they?

            Also you summed up by stating and I quote:
            “The biggest source is talking to those who implement the plans and decipher all that police speak down to layman’s terms.”

            This goes back to my earlier point about you trying to wear the journalists hat since apparently you are not only not asking the questions you are being fed this data by bureaucrats who have their own agendas. If you don’t understand the raw information so you can decipher it yourself then really then your really need to give that hat back to Jimmy Olsen. 🙂

            (Btw : I can pretty much guess, but for the record who was it that did all that interpreting into layman’s terms for you?)

          • Joey Martinez says:

            William, I am not a journalist nor do I pretend to be one. That is an insult to the hard working and underpaid jounalists like Ralph Nichols who put in the time and effort to uphold democracy.

            Letters to the Editor are by their very nature reader opinions to the editor and that is what I have been writing. I’ve been writing them to give the readers an iside view of what I have looked at to decide to support annexaton. It’s a very complex issue with many moving parts and I felt I owed it to the readers to explain why I decided to support annexation.

            When I do ask for a meeting with someone it is to learn about a subject. Obviously I am as biased toward annexation as you are against. I do try and keep an open mind on all the details. I have stated time and time again that OVERALL Annexation is great for Burien. Are there issues? Sure!

            That money ($200k) was used to help balance the general fund for 2012 without dipping into reserves. It was used to stave off a tax increase request or budget cut.

            You dislike how I used Seattle as a comparison to the Burien proposal, which with the current administration (Mayor McGinn) is not likely but then again he’s up for re-election next year.

            I dislike how in one breathe you say that the Seattle report calls for 45 cops to patrol the area using it to justify an argument that we will be short on cops in Burien and in your NEXT breathe say how we can’t know what the proposal will be.

            I also dislike how you are ripping Burien and telling North Highline to stick with NHUAC because they are open and responsive and in other posts you’ve ripped at and attacked them for doing that very same thing.

            I disagree that Burien is unresponsive toward annexation. As a supporter of annexation they have been VERY responsive. I guess that’s a point of view sort of thing!

            Did you want an appendix after every post? I will start doing that if you will good sir. I go by the belief that you’ve done your homework and are citing portions that support your cause because that is what I do.

            Lastly, CIP- not dodging just ignoring. I’ll write to CIP in the future and you can tell me how wrong I am at that time!

            Joey Martinez

  2. john poitras says:

    We don’t have enough police as it is.. No traffic control whatsoever. Everyone speeds and gets away with it. Annexation is just going to make the problem worse Joey.

    • Joey Martinez says:

      If you re-read my article I stated that I felt and stated that an unincorporated North Highline or a Seattle annexed North Highline would leave us even more short handed.

      What is your proposed solution to speeders? Red light and Speed cameras? I personally say “No thanks!”

      Joey Martinez

      • john poitras says:

        Joey how about referencing the sources you used to obtain your data? DId you speak to someone in particular who represents KCSO?

        I think your non objective opinion about Seattle being stingy with their resources and not allowing SPD to help out is just some kind of sour grapes on your part since from what I have been able to glean thats far from correct. Of course thats just my opinion.

    • Erik Robbins says:

      John you are 100% correct. The city could care less about the rampant speeding that has been going on in Burien. Example:
      I called the City about the speeding in my neighborhood.(30MPH zone. Most cars are traveling upwards of 50MPH). I was told it would take about 4 MONTHS before they could look into it. I deemed this unacceptable. I sent an email to the members of the city council. Only two members of the council read it and only one responded. Mr. Edgar. He did a excellent job of getting the BPD out in a few days. Numerous cars were pulled over and cited. They were out for two days. But I feel that that will be all we see of them until I complain again.

    • steve says:

      How would you like to be the victim of a speed trap? Or pulled over for minor infractions? Have to go to court and pay fines and have your insurance go up? To not have traffic enforcement is a blessing and selling point to live in Burien for new residents!!!

      • Ghost of Maewild says:

        Drive the speed limit,obey the law and you won’t have to go to court,pay fines or have your insurance go up. Respect your neighborhood and your neighbors.then the police will have more time for other issues.

  3. JJ Greive says:

    If Seattle annexes this area, it will be just one more undeserved area in the city full of areas similar areas. If they are part of Burien, we will have a voice, a vote and infinitely more influence on how this area is policed and developed. The people annexed will have infinity more influence then if they are absorbed into a city ten times our size. We all win.

    • Gabby says:

      I disagree JJ you are wrong…You are much better off with a very responsive NHUAC than the unresponsive and dysfunctional Burien City Council. Why take a risk on Burien with all the red flags out there from CURRENT Burien Residents, stay unincorporated and be happy with the NHUAC … they do a great job of listening to residents unlike the city council in Burien where you will just be a small fish in a much bigger pond.

    • publius II says:


      If I understand you r comment correctly, the North Highline area “will have infinity more influence” if they annex to Burien than they would if they annex to Seattle. Allow me to offer another scenario pitting the Burien possibilities vs the Seattle possibilities. North Highline voice in Burien might have a greater weight in terms being closer access to city hall meetings. However, it is also possible for North highline residents to also go to the Seattle council meeting downtown for a voice.

      If we look at the power of a voice in terms of available dollars (budgets), it sets a different picture. Burien’s budget is roughly $89 million while Sseattle’s is roughly $4 billion. Let us just say someone from North Highline is elected to the City councils of each city (when annexed). The voice of that person, over the available dollars, will have what chance of getting a few extra millions dollars for his/her HOME AREA, if elected to the Burien council? Recall that the previous mayor of Seattle was from West Seattle (Nickels). The entire West Seattle area is doing very very well as of late. What if?

      The people of North Highline have a difficult decision to make. I do not know what is best for them nor is this an attempt sway their vote. It is simply another view of the possibilities and realities of voice and available dollars. It is up to those residents to determine where their greater chances lay.

  4. btowner says:

    Joey writes articles now? It thought they were just comments.I don’t know why…but he reminds me of Star Jones….on vacation.

  5. William Forest says:

    Thanks for your response Joey..

    Keep in mind in ANY opinion piece or one used to support conclusions, knowing the SOURCE’S used are of primary importance in judging the credibility of the claims being made.

    For example on national blogs extremist right wingers like to use Fox News, Newmax Rush or any number of opinion based sites as a source but since these have little credibility you can either rebut with the facts or just ignore them.

    Btw OVERALL annexation is BAD for Burien… However that’s just my overall opinion from my overall research. 😉

    • Joey Martinez says:

      William, CoverofNight would be angry at you right now talking about Faux news like that!

      It’s difficult to site sources on the blog format especially since this isn’t the only organization I’ve been “bloggin” on.

      And your “BTW Overall annexation is bad” comment I am perfectly fine with that. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and think the other person is devil’s spawn. As long as we remember that we’re only trying to do what we think is best for Burien and work together I think everything will turn out fine. That and be somewhat nice to each other.


      Joey Martinez

  6. William Forest says:

    Joey… I would also like to correct a claim you made in your last post.. In fact despite your accusation I have NEVER SAID that NHUAC was unresponsive! Since imo they are very responsive, in fact too responsive sometimes to my liking, but that’s infinitely better than an unresponsive city council that in fact has turned over governance to the city manager! I do rip Burien’s council because they deserve it and someone has to, which unlike you disqualifies me from being appointed to the planning commission or any other such political favors handed out to those that support the majorities party line!

    I also used the last analysis on annexation of area Y that Seattle did which while dated is all there was for comparison and I added several caveats that indicated that things especially the economy have changed since then. When you used the Nesbitt report you did not add any such caveats. The point I was trying to make is you are putting the cart before the horse and fear mongering that an annexation by Seattle is the boogyman when in reality the residents have the power to vote any such proposal down. In effect you are using the specter of a Seattle annexation as a smoke screen to distract from the TWO REAL CHOICES that the residents of area Y will have in November which are ONE>>> to accept a take over by the city of Burien or TWO>>> to keep the status quo and remain with King County.
    Everything else is just smoke in the wind. Just leave Seattle as a factor OUT OF IT for now as its not relevant to the upcoming vote.

  7. Loren says:

    Joey and William,
    Thank you, thank you, thank you for affirming my choices in media.
    After reading your opinions I am totally convinced that all my years of listening to Rush and watching Bill and Sean has worked miracles in my life.
    You guys are hilarious!
    Loren Rich

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