By Jack Mayne

Fire District 2 Chief Mike Marrs said the number of COVID-19 cases “has steadily been on the rise. Just today, in the last 24 hours, we’ve had 180 new cases, three new hospitalizations and three deaths. The director of the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and many others believe that through many of the tactics being deployed that we can continue to relax the stay at home order while continuing to keep the growth of the coronavirus in check.

“The three most cited strategies were number 1, wear a face covering in public; number 2, maintain a minimum of social distancing; and number 3, wash your hands frequently,” said Marrs. “The effective way is covering your mouth and your nose.”

“We must control the spread of the virus or be faced with the targets of strictest stay-at-home orders on increasing the number of affected people and, correspondently, increase the number of deaths,” he said.

Councilmember Kevin Schilling asked where the closest place in Burien where people could get tested. Marrs said “normal health care providers” or check the Public Health – Seattle & King County website.

Positive local crime statistics
City Manager Brian Wilson said there was good news for Burien in the statewide crime statistics.

“For 2019 there is some very positive data regarding the City of Burien,” Wilson told Council. “We have, for south county agencies, the second lowest crime rate in 2019 to any of our south King County cities. We are second only to the city of Normandy Park.”

Wilson said Burien has the lowest number of police per thousand residents of any south King County city at one officer per thousand residents. Part of these results stem from the way the department has made a culture shift under Chief Ted Boe, said the city manager.

Burien police and minorities
City Attorney Garmon Newsom presented a requested potential ordnance that creates a task force to study Burien Police and the “way it interacts with minorities, and other changes that should be made to improve the Burien department.” The idea of such a study came from several councilmembers, but most directly by Deputy Mayor Krystal Marx.

The proposal said the city wants to “eliminate, or at least reduce the likelihood that the Burien Police Department has any incidents that result in an avoidable death or physical harm to any resident or visitor.” Burien, said Newsome’s proposed ordinance, “has paid attention to the incidents of violence, brutality, hate, and the complaints about unfair treatment that African Americans, Latinx, Native Americans and indigenous people, and other non-white people suffer at the hands of the police throughout the United States.”

In gathering information for the proposed ordinance to created the task force study, Newsom found that the FBI was not a good source of basic information as it only recently began collecting data about inappropriate treatment of non-whites.

“The best site was from the Washington Post (newspaper),” Newsom said, along with other media sources. He added that white supremicists groups have begun infiltrating into or recruiting from police departments or other law enforcement entities.

The proposal written by Newsom and staff said “the Washington Post, which has kept a database of police shooting since 2015, in an article updated on July 16, 2020, there have been at least 5,468 fatal shootings by police officers, and 2020 is on a similar pace.”

Newsom said whatever is done on a police study will involve King County because the Burien department is drawn from the ranks of the King County Sherif’s Department, which could cause that agency to differ with specific decisions on the Burien Police.