By Jack Mayne
Police Chief Scott Kimerer announced to the Burien City Council at Monday nightâ€™s session that he would be retiring on Sept. 1 after 38 years in law enforcement and as the chief of Burien Police for 14 years.
At the same meeting, a citizen asked if, under the cityâ€™s sanctuary rules, police would arrest and prosecute an illegal immigrant who is wanted under a federal warrant for a crime. Sheriff John Urquhart, overall commander of police officers on the Burien force said anyone under a federal warrant would be arrested and charged with whatever federal crime.
Burien Council thus introduces itself to new Burien City Manager Brian Wilson in another of its nearly three hour meetings
â€œI was blessed with the finest and most professional men and woman who work very hard to try to keep the city safe, as well as build community relations and trust,â€ Kimerer said near the end of the Monday night regular session.
â€œI want to thank my exceptional team, the city and all of Burien for an amazing chapter in my career,â€ he told the Council.
He got a standing round of applause from all of the Councilmembers.
Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, a frequent critic of Burien Police and police in general, was positive toward the chief.
â€œI personally would like to thank the chief for always being willing to talk with me even though we might vehemently disagree on the path the city should take,â€ she said. â€œI think there are a lot of residents and other people who disagree who can learn very well from that example that youâ€™ve set and I have appreciated that I have been able to talk to you even when we disagree. Thank you.â€
Deputy Mayor Nancy Tosta said everything she would say had been said and Kimerer was there whenever she called and had conversations that werenâ€™t â€œthe easy ones.â€
Councilmember Bob Edgar said Kimerer â€œhad been a positive face for the Burien community, to residents in the community and the surrounding communities.â€ Mayor Lucy Krakowiak and Councilmembers Debi Wagner, Stephen Armstrong, Bob Edgar and Austin Bell all added their kudos for the Chief.
â€œIf a person gets arrested, and a record is ran and they have a warrant from the FBI for whatever reason, will King County contact the FBI on this person? And a follow up question is that if that person is arrested and they have a warrant for ICE, will King County contact ICE?
â€œICEâ€ is the federal Homeland Security Departmentâ€™s Immigration and Customs Enforcement division.
â€œMy understanding of sanctuary is that they donâ€™t actively question a personsâ€™ immigration status at point of meeting but they will ascertain their status once they are arrested.â€
The B-Town Blog asked King County Sheriff John Urquhart, the commander of the agency that provides police services to the City of Burien.
â€œWhether a city if a self-proclaimed â€˜sanctuary cityâ€™ or not, does not … matter,â€ Urquhart said
If Burien Police officers, who are sworn county sheriff deputies, find there is a warrant from the FBI, â€œmy deputies/officers will arrest and book that person into jail. No need to call the FBI at all. They will be notified as the criminal case progresses.â€
Coluccio also asked whether Burien Police would arrest a person with an outstanding federal warrant.
â€œIf a person has an arrest warrant signed by a judge, that person will be arrested and booked,â€ Urquhart said. â€œNo ifâ€™s, andâ€™s, or butâ€™s about it and no need to call ICE. Just like the FBI, they will be notified as the case progresses.â€
The question that often arises is federal officers want county officers to hold someone where no warrant has been issued and Urquhart says deputies wonâ€™t do that. A legal warrant is required.
Coluccio told the Council Monday night that his understanding of sanctuary is that they donâ€™t actively question a personsâ€™ immigration status at point of meeting but they will ascertain their status once they are arrested.
â€œAgain, sanctuary city (or not) has nothing to do with the answer,â€ said the Sheriff. â€œIf someone is booked into jail, the jail does not ascertain immigrant status at all. However, ICE is automatically notified as soon as someone is booked and fingerprinted. If they want to take that person into federal custody, presumably because he is undocumented, they can get an arrest warrant and he will be held until they pick him up, or they can wait until he is released and get him at the jailhouse door (or) at his residence.â€
More signatures needed
City Attorney Lisa Marshall updated the Council on a proposed, but so far unsuccessful petition drive demanding the city to either repeal the cityâ€™s sanctuary ordinance or put it on the city ballot.
The King County Election Department said last week the appeal drive fell short of the required number of signatures. When the 4,181 petition signatures submitted were compared against official voter registration signature and address information on file only 3,119 were determined to be properly registered voters of King County and the Burien.
The required number was 3,643 valid signatures to certify, so the county determined that the petition needed 524 more legal signatures.
The petitioners have until next Monday, July 24, to gather enough valid signatures.
If they succeed, state law says Burien must either repeal the sanctuary ordinance or pass a resolution putting the issue on the Nov. 7 ballot.
Marshall said that decision must come by Aug. 1, so â€œa special meeting will be scheduled to take place between July 24, 2017 and July 31, 2017 if needed.â€
Police â€˜surviveâ€™ the 4th
Police Chief Kimerer said â€œwe have survived one more fourth of July which is very taxing for the citizens and for us.â€
He said Burien Police on the 4th had 90 calls, whereas on a â€œnormal dayâ€ in Burien there are about 20 calls for service. The calls are not just for fireworks â€“ the first call this year was for a shooting â€“ and those kinds of calls â€œinterrupt our flow for trying to answer the fireworks calls.â€
Kimerer said there was an additional 18 hours of overtime used for fireworks and any other routine calls. Ten citations for fireworks were issued and about 100 pounds of fireworks were confiscated.
Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said despite the number of hours the police worked, â€œwe couldnâ€™t tell in our neighborhood at leastâ€ and emails indicated neither could other areas of the city.
â€œItâ€™s ridiculous, you canâ€™t even describe it to people who donâ€™t live in this area,â€ Berkowitz said. â€œPeople think you are talking about a couple of fireworks but you are talking about constant fireworks for a whole week â€“ these crazy, loud kind of bomb sounding things after midnight all through the night. Itâ€™s indescribable and it seems like only a small proportion are able to be ticketed because of the time it takes to write up a citation, so hoping that next year the Council will support increasing the citation amount because I canâ€™t think of anything else that we could potentially do without hiring a lot more police which we obviously canâ€™t do.â€
Deputy Mayor Tosta asked what police could do differently to make an impact and Kimerer said the increase of the fine might help. Problem of citations is that only the people who know about the citation are the ones who get a ticket.
The chief did suggest possibly the city could sponsor a fireworks show, which might take away the urge for shows in peopleâ€™s backyards.
Wilson â€˜very excitedâ€™
Burienâ€™s new city manager, Brian Wilson, was attending his first Council meeting in his new job and was asked by Mayor Lucy Krakowiak to comment.
â€œI am very excited to be here,â€ Wilson said. â€œI look forward to serving the citizens of Burien, to working with staff and the community.
â€œThis is a great place to be, we have a lot to look forward to and I am really excited to meet all of you at some time in the future.â€
Earlier, resident and regular City Council critic Chuck Rangel said he wanted to apologize to Wilson for comments he made on Facebook â€œafter reading some storiesâ€ about matters in Federal Way, Wilsonâ€™s former employer.
â€œI thought I had read everything, but I had not read everything and subsequent to my ill-timed post, I have learned more. So, I welcome you … and good luck.â€
Andrea Snyder, the cityâ€™s economic development manager, says visits to Burien businesses during the first half of the year show that many complain of nuisance behavior, or those concerned about things that are not crimes but affect their customers. She said that could mean people asking for money, aggressive or unusual behavior.
Other business visits reveal some want marketing help or to learn how to become involved in city government or navigating government on how to get permits or where to ask questions they have.
She noted that many conversations never end up with a new business being started in the city.
Snyder said the city was approached by 13 potential new businesses, six of which were food and drink related, two where warehousing and manufacture related and one was a professional office. In addition, she said there have been six â€œdevelopment conversations with four hotel developers and two mixed use potential.
â€œThe odds are that we probably wonâ€™t have four hotels in the next year,â€ she said, adding there is lots of follow up required to find and explore business possibilities in Burien.
Krause gets award
City Finance Director Kim Krause was awarded the Association of Washington Cities â€œAdvocacy All-Star Awardâ€ for the local business and tax simplification task force that ensures â€œcities maintain local control while helping businesses thrive.â€
City Manager Wilson said the two other recipients of the award were from Seattle and Tacoma.