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