King County’s Sheriff has told her deputies to ignore a new rule in Burien that says homeless camps can’t be within 500 feet of places like schools and parks where vulnerable people are. She took the decision on her own without informing city officials.

This has led to the mayor accusing her department of playing politics. Sheriff Patti Cole-Tindall said she was worried the rule might not be constitutional, so she told deputies not to enforce it on Friday morning.

Sheriff Directs Suspension Of Enforcement

She wrote in an email that she didn’t want any of her deputies to end up in a situation where they might be asked or expected to do something that could violate legally-established rights.

Source: X/YakimaSheriff

“I am directing you that we will not enforce this particular section of the Burien Municipal Code (BMC 9.85.150) until the constitutionality of the public camping ordinance is resolved.

Cole-Tindall Accused Of Putting Politics Over Public Safety

Cole-Tindall didn’t tell Burien city officials, like Mayor Kevin Schilling, about her decision. Council members were surprised, with some only finding out about the memo when contacted by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH for comment.

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“The City of Burien pays millions of dollars to the King County Sheriff’s Department with the expectation that they will enforce our city codes and laws to keep the community safe and publicly accessible for all,” Schilling said in a statement to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Right now, the Dow Constantine appointed sheriff is prioritizing politics over public safety.”

Constantine’s Role In Announcement Questioned

It’s uncertain whether Cole-Tindall made the announcement under the direction of King County Executive Dow Constantine, who appointed her to the position.

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“All criminal code violations, except for the public camping ordinance, should continue to be enforced as you go about your duties,” Cole-Tindall concluded in her email.

Constantine Against City’s Rules To Solve Homelessness

The executive hasn’t backed the city’s recent actions to tackle the increasing homelessness issue. Constantine opposes sweeps. His office replied to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

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“The sheriff’s office informed our office this morning about their decision to await a legal and constitutional review of the new ordinance,” wrote the executive’s office.

Waiting Until Ordinance Issues Are Sorted Out

The sheriff’s office also released a statement, saying that after consulting with their legal team, they had serious doubts about whether the ordinance was constitutional.

Source: X/kcassessor

They explained that the sheriff had informed the city of their decision not to enforce that specific part of the Burien Municipal Code until the constitutionality of the public camping ordinance was resolved.

Not The First Time This Is Happening

The sheriff’s office mentioned that while this situation didn’t apply to this particular ordinance, in the past, the city has collaborated with them when new ordinances needed enforcement from KCSO.

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They noted that it was unusual for a draft language to appear on Friday and then be passed on Monday without any outreach or opportunity for input.

Timing Isn’t A Mere Coincidence

Mayor Schilling suspects that the timing of the order to stop enforcing the ordinance isn’t a mere coincidence. The city manager of Burien sent an email to the sheriff on Thursday expressing the city’s concern that her department may be avoiding its responsibilities regarding homelessness services as outlined in the interlocal agreement (ILA) with Burien.

Source: X/BostonDotCom

They claimed it was a political move. He also asked for a meeting to talk about the city’s concerns. Cole-Tindall replied at 10:08 a.m. on Friday, as per a copy of the email obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

No Dodging Here: We’re Fulfilling Our Duties

She called for the city to provide examples of where they believed the KCSO was evading their duties under the ILA. Her directive to deputies was sent at 10:52 a.m.

Source: X/kingcosoPIO

Schilling explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that Burien already wanted to review the Interlocal Agreement with KCSO. They were also considering putting a public safety levy on the ballot.

Suiting Services To Needs And Funds

He said that this situation would quicken those discussions. It would also start conversations on how Burien could receive services more tailored to its needs and funding streams.

Source: X/GlennFarleyK5

Deputy Mayor of Burien, Stephanie Mora, also commented on the controversy to The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. She stated, “We need a police department that can actually work collaboratively with our city and not bow down to outside political forces.”

Let The Voters Decide!

Mora added that it was time to take the issue to the voters of Burien and pass a public safety levy to establish their own police department.

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Burien’s city manager responded with an email on Friday afternoon, stating that they recently learned of the directive issued to the Burien Police Department. The email served as a notice of their intent to address the breach of the ILA through the Oversight Committee.

Payment For Services Could Be Withheld

It was mentioned that notice of the decision and KCSO’s violation of the ILA had already been sent to the Chair of the Oversight Committee for review and action. Additionally, the city manager indicated that they would explore withholding payment for services due to KCSO’s violation of the longstanding contract with the City of Burien.

Source: X/JeremyHarrisTV

The Burien city council viewed the new homeless encampment legislation, Ordinance 832, as an “emergency ordinance” due to its implications for health and public safety.

Exception Clause And Resident Concerns

The ordinance included an exception for instances between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. when no beds or shelters were available.

Source: X/Burien_Enough

Residents reported incidents of homeless individuals harassing children or using drugs in their presence. Despite coordinated activist opposition, the ordinance passed with a 5-2 vote.

Former Council Members Speak Out

The new rule, even though most folks seem to like it, got a lot of pushback from a small group of activists. Two former city council members, Cydney Moore and Krystal Marx, have been really loud about not wanting homeless folks in shelters. Moore lost her last election. Marx lost both her re-election and tried to get back on the council.

Source: X/btownblog

“By and large, this looks like a way to essentially zone people out of the city entirely,” Moore told a news outlet. She voted against the original camping ban before losing her re-election.