LETTER: An Open Letter to the Mayor, Council, City Manager & Police Chief

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[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a Letter to the Editor, written by a Reader. It does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The B-Town Blog nor its staff:]

April 19, 2018

An Open Letter to The Honorable Jimmy Matta, Mayor of Burien, Members of the Burien City Council, Mr. Brian Wilson, City Manager, and Captain Theodore Boe, Incoming Chief of Police, City of Burien:

Have you ever seen a television news segment reporting on a violent crime where the person being interviewed says to the reporter, “You know, I am just totally shocked. I truly cannot believe this has happened. These sort of things just… don’t… happen… here”.

Well, unfortunately I must report to you in this letter of something that I think each of you already know, deep down in your hearts. And that is that no man, woman, or (I’m sorry to say) child living here, in the great City of Burien, will be giving that interview on the evening news anytime soon.

Instead, the interview you are likely to see, reporting live from the scene of the next violent crime here in Burien, might sound something like this:

“I’m just so sick of all of the violence happening here in this city that I love. When will it stop?”

Or, perhaps:

“It’s such a shame, but unfortunately not surprising anymore. We don’t even feel comfortable taking our kids to the beautiful parks minutes from our front door.”

Or, maybe:

“Our family has thought long and hard about this. Burien is where we’ve called home for the last 25 years. But as much as it hurts to say, as soon as our lease is up, we’re getting out of here. It’s just not a safe place to live and raise our children here any longer.”

As I’m sure all of you saw or at the very least heard about, at around 7:00 PM last night at SW 148th Street and 1st Ave South, a man was beaten with what was described in various news reports from witnesses as “a chain and a machete”.

Now I want you to think about that for a minute. No, really, stop what you are doing for a moment and just sit and think about that.

It’s broad daylight. In one of the busiest parts of our city. People are all around. And a man is being viciously beat with a chain and hacked away at with a machete on the sidewalk as cars whiz on by.

This is not an act of barbarism taking place in a third-world country, 1000s of miles away; this is happening, right here, in the heart of Burien, WA.

As it turns out, I just so happened to be driving down 148th last night on my way home. According to Google, the GPS on my phone registered me passing by the scene at 6:57 PM, which apparently was just 3 minutes or so before this happened. I had no idea until I saw news alerts on my phone an hour or so later.

In retrospect, I do recall seeing a man who may well have been the victim in this case walking along that very sidewalk. And when I drove past 3 minutes prior, absolutely nothing was out of the ordinary. That is, until a few moments later, when that man was – out of the blue – beaten and slashed nearly to death.

It is happening just that fast, folks.

Now, I certainly want to give credit where it is due. KOMO News on their 11:00 PM newscast reported that the Burien Police Department quickly effected an arrest of the two suspects believed to be involved in this incident. Our community deeply appreciates the quick action taken by our law enforcement professionals to get these men off our streets. A job well done, to be sure. But there is certainly, unquestionably, more to do.

Our new King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht was at the Burien City Council meeting this past Monday and took some time to address the council. During that interaction, I recall a question that was asked of her, I believe from Councilmember Tosta, regarding what some of the benefits were of contracting with KCSO vs. having our own police force. Thinking of that question, there is one thing came to mind because of this latest, truly horrific, incident of violence in our midst. Here is that question, stated in the form of a request:

I would like the Mayor, the City Manager, and our incoming Burien Police Chief to ask for more help, in the form of additional manpower working on the ground here in Burien, from the existing pool of 720 (or so) sworn deputies employed by KCSO.

This request is not simply a re-hash of the promise of “looking into” the budgetary possibility of re-establishing a gang unit in the future. That, while certainly an important discussion in and of itself, is a mid or long-term goal.

What I am asking for here, in this letter, is for our Mayor, City Manager, and new Police Chief is to make a formal request, as a paying client of / contract city for the KCSO with a clear crisis of unbridled violence on our hands, seeking additional manpower. Not maybe down the road. Not perhaps in the next year. Not sometime next month. Not coming up next week. But right now.

Because if this latest episode, OR the case of the boy who was robbed and shot at (by God’s grace, not hit) a few hours earlier yesterday afternoon just a little further south, OR the rolling car chase in North Burien where shots were fired on April 11th, OR the armed robbery of the 76 Gas Station on April 10th, OR the senseless loss of two young ladies taken from their loved ones on March 28th is not enough to WAKE YOU UP… God help you.

Joey DiJulio
Burien Resident

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