On Monday, May 6, 2024, Burien Mayor Kevin Schilling sent us the following response to the Burien Police Officers petition of “no confidence” in he and City Manager Adolfo Bailon (read our previous coverage here).

When we first contacted Schilling for comment on Saturday, he said was unable to respond to our request at that time.

Here’s text of his full statement:

“The City of Burien is focused on getting folks off the street and into shelter and services. The City Council prioritizes treatment over tents, and public safety over politics.

“The Burien City Council appreciates the work of the deputies and officers in protecting Burien. We understand they are in a difficult position while this political issue plays out.

“Burien Police Officers are employed by the County Sheriff’ Office and are Sheriff’s Deputies. They are here to protect and serve our community every day. For years we’ve heard from the police about the short comings of county service providers and the need to get drugs and public camping under control. Then, with a council that wants to do that in place, we’re now in this scenario where the Sheriff is not enforcing those laws.

“A judge has not ruled that this law is unconstitutional, but instead, it falls squarely in line with federal requirements as well as in line with the argument of the administration of President Joseph Biden: that these laws are common sense and practical, and cities have the authority to put time, place, and manner restrictions on public camping.

“We hope we can come together and find common ground and get a path toward enforcement of our public camping ordinance and drug use laws.

“We are disappointed the Sheriff has unilaterally decided not to enforce a law passed by the democratically elected city council. And we look forward to the decisions of the courts.”

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17 Comments

  1. What a joke, Mr. ceremonial mayor. You do not speak for the city, its people, or its unhoused population. You’ve avoided every possible opportunity to provide shelter to the unhoused. Quit grandstanding and do the public’s business.

    1. Weren’t you a council member once, did you refer to the mayor at that time as ceremonial as well? I await your reply.

      1. Do you understand that nobody owes you a response to anything? Just say what you want and be done with it.

    2. This is a drug problem, not a housing problem. We’ve seen this play out over and over again in Seattle – most refuse treatment and the rules that come with free housing. At some point you can’t let people sleep on 152nd where kids walk to the library and market. That time is now. Burien’s elected officials made a law. It’s proven constitutional (Boise). The non-elected police are choosing to not enforce. It’s black and white.

  2. Same weak statements that we’ve all read before.

    It’s time to drop this effort, Mr Mayor. Get back to doing actual work.

    1. What the Mayor is doing is going above and beyond actual work, he has the citizens and businesses first and foremost because they pay the taxes that make it functional. Catering to outside influence is foolish, his speaking up about lack of civil order and public safety is what his job demands.

  3. While citizens are critical of Burien’s leadership, be it the Mayor or the Police Chief, there’s no doubt that Burien has a “crisis of disgust”. Who is to blame? It depends on which end of the stick you’re holding. At one end are the sympathizers and at the other end are the victims. One end feels that there’s a crisis of crime linked to drug-addled criminals who are homeless. The other end sympathizes with individuals they feel “through no fault of their own” are victims of insufficient, affordable housing. What we DON’T know is if Burien’s governmental practices have served as a magnet for disruptive criminal behavior that has torn apart the social fabric of the city, OR if Burien is an intolerant , heartless city that wants to criminalize the supposed constitutional right to sleep in public.
    I think both sides have to shoulder some of the blame.
    Homeless criminals who OD in the library shouldn’t have been on the street AND should have received treatment— BUT homeless illegal-substance abusers should NOT have the option of refusing treatment AND not being incarcerated.
    The public’s interest is always at odds with the individual’s. In Burien this is the current debate: how disruptive should a homeless individual, or any other individual, be allowed to be before the public interest trumps the individual’s rights. This is NOT about how nice, loving or kind a substance-abuser is. It is about admitting that treatment is not an option—it should be obligatory. “Helping” street addicts who abuse illegal drugs should come with a success record of putting people in treatment and keeping them off the streets. That should be the metric of success. Period.

  4. Does King County still run the show in Burien? I thought that when we incorporated as a city we assumed responsibility for our own choices, for our own destiny.
    We contracted with the County Sheriffs office for Police services.
    We pay taxes for those services.
    They are contractors working for us.
    We pay their salaries.
    If I employed a contractor for his services and he refused to provide the services I paid him for, I’d fire him.

  5. My family is with you Kevin. We would love to feel safe in our community again. So unfortunate for our local business owners. ?

  6. The comments here mostly assume that homelessness is either a choice or the result of drug abuse. I can’t take anyone seriously who is completely uninformed. Please, think before you speak and read before you think.

    1. No, you’re out of touch. Go try to walk downtown. It’s impossible. It’s an open air drug market in front of our library.

      I doubt you even live in Burien.

      1. You are mistaken, I live in and own property in 152, I have renters on this street, and we need to do something productive instead of pointing fingers and blaming volunteers and police.

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