Each candidate running for the Burien City Council Aug. 1, 2023 Primary Election was asked ten questions by The B-Town Blog, covering topics like their reasons for wanting to serve on the council, what they think about current issues in the city, and what kind of solutions they have.
The following responses to the sixth question in our series are from candidates for Position 4, which is currently filled by Kevin Schilling, who is running for reelection.
Ballots are due by Aug. 1, 2023.
NOTE: Candidates are listed in order as per the King County Elections online Voters Guide website. Photos and links are to/from each candidate’s profile on the same website.
What are your thoughts on the job that Burien Police/King County Sheriff’s Office are doing?
“Due to our shared service model, King County needs to fill empty positions in Burien’s police force. I’m in favor of exploring the independent city model, which would establish a Burien Police Department. A dedicated Burien Police Department would allow Burienites to determine what is best for its own form of public safety and policing.
“I am the only candidate in this race who supports increased support for the Burien Police/King County Sheriff’s Office. I support non-police responses, and investments in mental health services. But, I believe Burien also needs more police officers.”
“Rather than prosecuting certain individuals through the traditional criminal justice system, Burien has been and was one of the first jurisdictions to employ the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. This is a program that diverts people who have committed certain types of low-level misdemeanors into community-based treatment and support services. These services can include assistance with housing, health care, job training, treatment, and mental health services and support.
“The goal of Burien’s LEAD’s program is to improve public safety and public order, and to reduce the criminal behavior of people who participate in the program by addressing the root issues of why they are involved in the illegal activities.
“Currently, all referrals to LEAD are screened and approved by a team that includes law enforcement officers. The program has had a lot of success in Burien and in other jurisdictions, however, as with any program, we must continually evaluate and adjust it to keep it relevant and ensure greater success. It is necessary to understand why some referred to the program were, and some weren’t successful by interviewing past participants so we can continue to reduce recidivism and prevent relapse. We must continue to partner with Human Services through programs such as LEAD to free up police time and resources to allow them to focus on more serious crimes.
“In light of the nationwide police shortages, it is necessary for us to continue to find creative ways to respond to situations that do not require an armed response, this is where a neighborhood model may help as we partner with mental health and social work professionals.”
“King County Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall, Burien Police Chief Ted Boe, and all the uniformed officers and emergency services providers that serve people in our city are doing admirable jobs in an impossible situation. While the City of Burien may choose to involve city staff in removals, the County will not use its employees this way, including KCSO deputies. I appreciate Executive Constantine’s office’s leadership here.
“We know that our police and jail services are the most expensive, least effective tool in a housing crisis. We know that writing policy and using public employees to ban homelessness in all but name is opening our city up to legal liability. We know that chasing around one encampment after the next with a post hoc justification to clear the people and their belongings there, without having a better offer on hand, is harmful, traumatic, even deadly.
“20 unhoused people died this June in the county. In Burien two community members lost their lives while unsheltered last month. This is not singly the Police Department’s, Council’s, or any one person’s fault, but we are responsible together for what we do next.”