July is Disability Pride Month 

Disability Pride celebrates the important history of the disability civil rights movement and recognizes contributions that people with disabilities make in workplaces and communities. 

All King County employees are welcome and encouraged to participate in Disability Pride Month events. Join the conversation that honors the lived experience of King County employees with disabilities and highlights continued efforts to advance disability equity and justice in King County. 

Movie and Discussion: Crip Camp   

Watch and discuss the Sundance Festival award-winning documentary Crip Camp: A Disability Revolution, which tells the story of Camp Jened, a summer camp where teens with disabilities found and built a community that ignited the disability rights movement.

Facilitators will share clips from the documentary and explore the themes of disability inclusive community, activism and self-advocacy, and the intersection of race and disability. The full documentary is available on Netflix and free on YouTube.

The event is sponsored by the King County Disability Equity Network, the King County Disability Awareness Month Committee, and co-hosted by Superior Court.

  • Monday, July 11 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Register in advance here. You will receive a confirmation email about how to join the meeting.

Reasonable Accommodations: The Zoom event includes live captioning, ASL interpretation, and audio descriptions of the video clips. For other reasonable accommodations, contact Ronda Bliey at 206-477-0791 or Ronda.Bliey@kingcounty.gov.

July 26 is Pride Disability Day

Join Anita Whitfield, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer, and employees in celebration of Disability Pride to honor and recognize the contributions of people with disabilities through the lens of equity. 

This event is co-sponsored by the King County Disability Equity Network, the King County Disability Awareness Month Committee, and the Office of Equity and Social Justice. 

  • Tuesday, July 26 from noon to 1 p.m. Register in advance here. After you register for this event you will receive a confirmation email. Zoom details will be sent out in a separate email prior to the event.

Reasonable Accommodations: This Zoom event includes live captioning and ASL interpretation will be available. For other reasonable accommodations, contact Taryn Farley at 206-263-8927 or tfarley@kingcounty.gov by July 20.

Free admission to Emerald Downs July 10

King County employees and their families are invited to attend the Emerald Downs racetrack for King County Day on Sunday July 10. They will receive free admission and should check in at Will-Call to receive their tickets. Employees will need to show proof of current employment, such as an employee badge or recent paystub.

Part of the Family Fun Weekend event, gates open at 9 a.m., and the first race of the day is at 2.15 p.m. Throughout the day from 1-5 p.m. children can also participate in several games and activities held in the park.

In addition to King County Day, other events at Emerald Downs this summer include Corgi RacesPremio Esmeralda Weekend which highlights the Latinx community, T-Rex Day, Wiener Dog and Wannabe races, and the final race of the season, Three Stakes on Closing Day.

Parking: Free general lot parking is available. Preferred parking is $10. There is no valet parking available. A shuttle bus service will be offered from parking lots to the main gates during live racing hours only. View more information here.

Seating: General admission bench and table seating is available throughout the track. Picnic tables and umbrella tables located on the track apron are also available. More seating information is available here.

  • Adult ticket: $10
  • Adult ticket and reserved Grandstand seat: $13
  • Youth ticket: $5 ages 5-17-years-old. Ages 4 and under receive free admission and do not require a ticket.

For more information, visit the Emerald Downs website.

Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics

Originally posted in King County Sheriff’s Office News

On Thursday June 16, law enforcement throughout the state participated in the Law Enforcement Torch Run (LETR) for the Special Olympics. The mission is to raise awareness and funds for the Special Olympics movement, and several King County contract city partners also participated. Shoreline, Burien, Sound Transit, Sammamish, Maple Valley, and Covington ran or walked alongside community members and King County Deputy Kristi Bridgman, who led the effort. 

There were also two Special Olympic athletes in attendance, both of whom have been participating in the Torch run for five years.

The events didn’t end there, as the Special Olympics hosted their annual Olympic Games on Saturday, June 19. In attendance were law enforcement officers, considered the ‘Guardians of the Flame’, who carried the Torch for the opening ceremonies at Pacific Lutheran University. This was the first in person Special Olympics Games in Washington in over two years! For more information on the history LETR, check out this video: Game Changers | History of the Law Enforcement Torch Run – YouTube

Commander Todd Clark retires after 40 years with Adult and Juvenile Detention

Originally posted in the June edition of Roll Call, the newsletter for the Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention

Commander Todd Clark’s deep experience working for King County jails made him a wealth of institutional knowledge. At the end of April, Clark stepped down from the commander’s role for both the Seattle and Kent divisions.

Retiring Adult Divisions Commander Todd Clark (right) with retired KCCF Commander Gordon Karlsson.

He had been leading the Seattle Division since 2020, following Gordon Karlsson’s retirement. In the fall of 2021, he took on the added role as commander of the Maleng Regional Justice Center, after Ed Bautista retired.

Clark’s tenure as commander spanned unprecedented times, including the COVID-19 pandemic and the added challenges during the Omicron surge.

His career with the department began in May of 1982, shortly after completing his service in the U.S. Army. He was first assigned to the jail that was located inside the Courthouse, four years before the King County Correctional Facility opened.

As a sergeant in the 1990s, he assisted with opening the Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent, then returned to the Seattle Division years later as a captain and then major.

Interim Commanders Troy Bacon and Lisaye Manning are overseeing the Seattle and Kent divisions. The majors positions are being held open for now.

Judge Jim Rogers receives Outstanding Judge Award from King County Bar Association

Fresh, affordable, and culturally relevant: A spotlight on farmers markets serving our immigrant and refugee communities

Cross-posted from Public Health Insider

After a winter that stayed too long, a cooler than average spring, and as summer moves in with the promise of endless sunshine, so do the annual summer farmers markets that emerge across the county each year.

For many residents, buying fresh local food at one of the 30-plus farmers markets is a highly-anticipated seasonal ritual. These market programs provide communities with access to local, fresh, affordable, and culturally relevant produce. Read more.

Update on protests in response to Supreme Court ruling

With today’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade, a number of large-scale protests will take place in our region beginning today.

Several protests are planned, including:

  • Westlake Park in downtown Seattle today and tomorrow at 5 p.m.
  • Federal Building at 915 Second Avenue at 5 p.m. today
  • Yesler Terrace Park at 5 p.m. today
  • Redmond Downtown Park at 5 p.m. today.

Additional protests may also take place. Please expect disruptions to traffic in and around the downtown core. Be prepared for these impacts and allow extra time when you travel. Please check with your supervisor for specific information or instructions for your work unit. Any alternate work arrangements must be approved by your supervisor.

We value and respect the peaceful expression of political views and people exercising their First Amendment rights. Employees who are scheduled to work and wish to attend any of the protest events must follow their department’s appropriate leave policies and take leave with the approval of their supervisor. For more information on your department’s leave policies, please refer to your Human Resources Manager. 

Resources for Commuters

(Featured image of Westlake Park courtesy of Seattle Parks and Recreation)

A shameful day in our nation’s history

By Dow Constantine, King County Executive

This morning’s ruling by the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade is the culmination of a decades-long strategy by right-wing zealots to strip the essential right to abortion care from millions of Americans. 

On a personal level, I am outraged that my daughter will come of age in a society that treats her as a second-class citizen, without authority even over her own body; in a country that lacks basic supports for families, like universal paid family leave and affordable access to quality child care; and in a country with scandalously high rates of maternal and infant mortality.

Even though Washington state law protects the right to abortion care, we know that neighboring states are poised to impose some of the strictest and most punitive abortion bans our nation has ever seen. Health care providers and public health leaders are bracing for an influx of people traveling to Washington state and King County to obtain an abortion.

That’s why today I’m announcing $1 million in emergency funding to bolster our response and live up to our values:

  • I’m partnering with Chair Claudia Balducci to ask the County Council to authorize $500,000 to be allocated directly to the Northwest Abortion Access Fund, an organization dedicated to helping people secure abortion care in the Pacific Northwest 
  • I will also authorize $500,000 for an emergency fund at Public Health – Seattle & King County to ensure our local healthcare system is able to respond to the surge we know is coming.

It is clear that the Court’s sinister decision will not actually stop abortions from happening – it will, rather, take us back to a time when abortions were not safe. My administration will continue to support providers, public health workers, women, Trans and Non-Binary people, and families to ensure that King County remains a safe and welcoming place to access abortion care, family planning services, and the right to privacy. I welcome partnership and collaboration from my fellow elected leaders and community advocates as we navigate and respond to the impacts of this anti-American and dangerous decision.

This is a distressing day – a shameful day. It will be remembered as a day when America invalidated the established rights of the people. Remember that there are always people you can reach out to for emotional support. If you need to speak with someone, take the time to reach out to family members, friends, or colleagues. King County also provides two services to employees that offer professional support and advice: the Employee Assistance Program and Making Life Easier (username: King County). Both resources are free and confidential.

Pride Parade is back, and King County is marching

Mark your calendars for Sunday, June 26 to join with colleagues and represent King County in the 2022 Seattle Pride Parade. Participants will be required to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test to participate.

Marchers can join the King County contingent on 4th Ave, between Columbia and Cherry, from 1 to 1:30 p.m. See the parade and staging area map below.

To get the full logistics and stay up to date on all things related to the Pride Parade, email leah.holland@kingcounty.gov with the subject line “PRIDE Info.” 

Burien Police storefront takes an old-school approach

While the idea of a ‘storefront’ police officer is not new to King County – Kent, White Center, Skyway, Seatac, and others have had them several years – Burien has only recently joined in with the practice of having a fulltime presence in the downtown business district.

Deputy Mark Hayden

The storefront is more of a community-focused, old-school approach to policing. It’s basically having an officer who’s out there most every day, walking a beat.

“It allows us to look at problem solving instead of crisis response,” said Burien Police Chief Ted Boe. People feel more comfortable and safer having that visibility, someone with a presence that’s around but not actively arresting someone, Boe continued. It’s building a tight relationship with the community to “help prevent issues and develop ideas on how to increase safety and services.”

The need was there

King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) Deputy Mark Hayden has lived in Burien for nearly 20 years, but he grew up in Ballard at a time when there was a Seattle Police officer that patrolled the neighborhood on foot. The officer in Ballard “was an ex-Marine with a high and tight haircut that carried himself,” Hayden said. People in the community knew the officer, would see him around, engaging with people and the businesses. That had an impact on Hayden as a youngster.

Like many communities, Burien has experienced a recent uptick in crime in the downtown area, including burglaries and car prowls. And like other communities, Burien is very busy with calls for service. With KCSO grappling with higher than usual staff vacancies, businesses were not seeing enough police presence downtown to provide a sense of safety and security for those coming to the city.

“Police visibility helps encourage the community and discourage the negative activity,” Deputy Hayden explained. People and business owners in the community reinforced that in his interactions with them. “So, I went to my chief and captain to encourage at least a limited amount of time to provide a presence downtown,” he said

“Burien is not just where Mark works, but also where he lives,” Boe said. “When he approached me with the idea of trying the storefront there a couple years ago, I thought it was a great idea.” Chief Boe was able to get funding for Deputy Hayden to work one day a week, and the community response was overwhelmingly positive. So much so, that after less than a year, the Burien City Council came up with an investment in downtown public safety that allowed this position to be full time.

Burien faces the same societal issues as any city, including providing support for people experiencing homelessness, substance abuse, and mental health issues. The storefront officer position is also involved in outreach along with Crime Reduction units, connecting those people in need to services when we can, while educating the public about their efforts. “We let the community know we’re here, monitoring the situation, and trying to help these folks,” Hayden said.

Connecting with the community

With COVID-19 restrictions loosening up, there are more opportunities to engage with the community. Burien Starbucks recently held a Coffee with a Cop event where community members were invited to engage in conversations with their local officers. The community is extremely supportive, as it provided an opportunity to talk one-on-one in a casual atmosphere. These events help educate the public on what police enforcement is like, instead of just talking to police when they’ve been called for an emergency.

“I interact with kids all the time,” Deputy Hayden said. He keeps little bags with police trinkets with him, like Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars, plastic badges, stickers. He says it’s so important to interact with kids and take away the fear they might have of police. He’s overheard parents warn their kids “You better be good or he’s gonna throw you in the car and take you to jail.” Hayden prefers the positive approach to make kids feel comfortable and to know that the police are there to help. “I’ll let them sit in the driver seat of my car sometimes, turn on the lights,” he said with a grin. “It goes a long way for the parents and other adults to see it, too. I don’t want them to be afraid.”  

“I want my friends to feel safe and have a connection with the PD,” Hayden emphasized, “And I want people visiting the city to feel safe and enjoy their time here.”