Photo by Steve Shay
UPDaTE: KC GOP Party endorses Strachan. L-R: KC Sheriff Steve Strachan & opponent John Urquhart debated issues at a recent North Highline Area Council Meeting. The evening was intended to be a safety forum.

UPDATE: KC Republicans endorse Strachan; KC Sheriff Strachan defends his record amid opponent Urquhart's charges in "non-debate"

Robberies, weapons use down in White Center in 2012

UPDATE Sept 16:

King County Republican Party Endorsement Strachan for Sheriff

KC GOP Press release:

Steve Strachan's brief tenure as Interim Sheriff has come during complicated times for the King County Sheriff’s Department. His service as the Police Chief of Kent has provided good experience for the challenges the now faced in King County. Strachan's respectful personal demeanor, calm leadership style, proven willingness to listen to community voices, and intellectual openness to the perspectives of others were important factors in our decision. We also take note of his wide support from the law enforcement community, including King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, former Sheriff Sue Rahr, and a host of police chiefs, law enforcements leaders, etc.

The King County Republican Party believes Steve Strachan should to be retained as King County Sheriff.

Urauhart is well known to local media for, as the Seattle Times described in September 2011, his "blunt speaking" and media savvy. His duties as spokesperson were without executive responsibility; Urquhart portrays his role in the Sheriff’s Office as an advisory capacity integral to the Department's command staff. Urquhart has long been personally familiar to many Republican activists. While we did not endorse him, we do acknowledge his efforts on behalf of Republicans and our candidates over the years.
The Sheriff's Department will continue to face challenges. We feel Sheriff Strachan's experience, calm demeanor and willingness to listen to community voices make him the best choice for the job.

The North Highline Unincorporated Area Council (NHUAC) held its quarterly Public Safety Forum Thursday night, Sept. 13, at the North Highline Fire Station. On hand was White Center Store Front Deputy, BJ Myers, who took questions regarding community concerns from the audience of about 25. They included car prowlers, graffiti and public drunkenness. He passed out sheets with charts indicating a sharp decrease over the last three years in robberies, particularly those involving weapons.

C.E.R.T. & 9-1-1 Citizens Academy programs:

Also, King County Community Service Officer Mechee Burnett and Sergeant Ted Boe, both based in SeaTac, pitched the Community Emergency Response Team, or C.E.R.T. program, open to the public, and the 9-1-1 Citizens Academy. Both programs next begin in spring, 2013. The goal is to learn to become more self-sufficient, to take care of yourself, your loved ones, and then your neighbors and community.

C.E.R.T. trains participants in disaster preparedness via the Seatac and Burien Fire Departments, including coping with mass casualties, how to, or not to, drive during a storm with electric lines down, the use of fire extinguishers, and disaster psychology. $35 for the series of evening classes, and you keep the first aid kit, hard hat, and other supplies.

The 9-1-1 Citizens Academy is free through the King County Sheriff's Office and in these evening classes you learn about the broad range of sheriff duties involving helicopter and marine patrol, SWAT Team, detective work, gun range where you can test weapons, and check out the K9 dogs.

Contact Officer Burnett for more information at (206) 973-4917. She said that at first you might feel like you are in school with all these new "classmates". But by the end of training, you bond and feel like one big family, and wish the classes would continue, she promised.

King County Sheriff candidates Steve Strachan and John Urquhart:

The main event was clearly the "non-debate" debate, if you will, between King County Sheriff candidates Steve Strachan and John Urquhart. While respectful in demeanor, Urquhart challenged Strachan's record, and Strachan defended himself. Urquhart opened by saying he was happily retired last January after serving in Washington State as a police officer for over 36 years, the last 24 as a full time member of the King County Sheriff’s Office. But the moment he retired, he said he started receiving calls from employees inside the King County Sheriff's Department pleading with him to return to solve systemic problems.

Strachan countered that he became Chief for the very problems Urquhart raised, some stemming from the King County Council's Government Accountability, Oversight and Financial Performance Committee's audit report issued recently ordering the Sheriff's Office to step up oversight and accountability procedures. The audit report made 16 recommendations for the King County Sheriff's Office Internal Investigations Unit and newly established Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.

Chief Strachan has 25 years of experience in law enforcement. Prior to joining the King County Sheriff's Office, he served as Kent Chief of Police from 2006 to 2011.

Both candidates were careful to praise the "rank and file officers and civilians" on the King County Force.

Urquart argued, "Steve came in January, 2011 (as Chief Deputy.) Sue Rahr said Steve will run day to day operations (...) He's only been Sheriff since April, but has been running the department for the last 20 months. Really this has to fall some on Steve."

Both candidates have Highline and White Center credentials. Strachan is a SeaTac resident and knows the area well. Urquhart served as deputy most of my career in the Burien precinct, and patrolled South Park, SeaTac, and Boulevard Park. Both favor annexation of White Center to Burien.

"My experience has been that every time an area annexes they get more police service than before," said Urquhart. "I can't speak for what the City of Burien is going to do. But I've lived through the annexation of SeaTac, of where Tukwila took over Allentown, and of course what Burien has done so far."

"Burien would become our contract partner and in many cases the same King County deputies would simply wear uniforms that say 'Burien'. Burien Mayor Brian Bennett and City Manager Mike Martin want to staff up and are committed to insuring that staffing will provide (enough) safety for the city."

Medical marijuana was high on the list during audience Q&A.

"I am for medical marijuana and support clarity," said Strachan. "There is now a surreal, Twilight Zone nature of the law. It does not serve us and is not good for our criminal justice system. Say what's legal and say what's not. If it is voted legal, I'm fine with that."

Urquhart came close to agreeing. " I was a narcotics detective for many years," he said. "The war on drugs didn't work, and is not going to work, period, so I am in favor of Initiative 502, to legalize marijuana. (On the Washington State ballot this November) Marijuana was made illegal in the 1930's because of a racial issue. We have arrested African Americans primarily, and used disparate sentences for years."

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