City council roundup: Day Center’s troubles, FWPD’s partnership

Mayor Jim Ferrell also commends Kristen Speakman for putting together the Back to School Haircuts event at Town Square Park.

At the Sept. 5 Federal Way City Council meeting, Mayor Jim Ferrell shared that there had been some concerning events at the Federal Way Day Center, which launched a lengthy discussion and was mentioned in several public comments.

Discussion centered on a video sent by a Federal Way resident to the police group and a few staff members in the city. The video showed several people around a small fire on the sidewalk outside of the Day Center, according to the mayor and Police Chief Andy Hwang.

By the time police arrived, the fire had been put out. The video also included an individual who is living on King County property adjacent to the Day Center.

Chief Hwang shared his overview of police involvement with the issue. Community Development Director Keith Niven shared how the code compliance department was involved, then both answered council questions and participated in further discussion. Niven said that his department had been working with the Day Center on code compliance issues since the previous week over an accumulation of trash and shopping carts in the parking lot.

The mayor and councilmembers made comments and asked questions about who had the authority to enforce that policy and suggested a variety of options of how to deal with safety concerns. Most of these centered on stricter enforcement or changes in policy that would give police and code compliance more authority to assert power over unhoused individuals.

Deputy Mayor Susan Honda noted that she had submitted a request for a report on the Day Center several weeks ago and had not yet received it.

Mayor Ferrell shared that he has put together a team to discuss how they are going to address community challenges at the Day Center, including the city attorney, city administrator, public works director and others. He will share updates soon.

Recognition for the Federal Way Police Department

Interim Fire Chief Van Valkenburg presented a plaque to Federal Way Police Chief Hwang as well as some heartfelt comments about the partnership between the two departments:

“South King Fire would like to recognize and thank Chief Hwang and officers of the Federal Way Police Department. The relationship between our two agencies has made great strides over the year and the a positive effects are felt by personnel on the streets.”

The fire chief added: “We greatly appreciate police officers’ assistance on calls as they often arrive before fire units. At our most critical incidents over the past year, we experienced increased officer assistance at EMS incidents … these quick initial actions have helped to decide whether a patient will survive … an officer’s ability to assess direct threats, secure the scene and address potential life-threatening injuries shows a commitment to protecting and serving the community.”

Chief Hwang returned the remarks: “It really feels special coming from our emergency partner South King Fire. I know we have forged a strong working relationship over the years.”

He also noted: “It is a little unique to Federal Way, very few police departments actually carry AED equipment,” and that “when we have cardiac arrest, our officers actually respond. Very few police agencies do that … we believe savinga life is the most important thing and if we can get the CPR or AED process started before the emergency personnel show up, that’s a plus, and we’ve had many successes over the years … We just love this partnership and the program that we have together.”

Back to School Haircuts

Mayor Jim Ferrell kicked off a slideshow of recent community events by commending Kristen Speakman for putting together the Back to School Haircuts event at Town Square Park on Aug. 26.

“This was Kristen’s idea and she’d been thinking about it for a long time, so for all those people out there who have maybe a crazy idea or something they’re thinking about doing, just reach out. We were so happy to partner with her … and you could just see all the happy kids. Some kids came and they were looking pretty shaggy… and when the kids left they just looked like a shiny new penny and they were really proud of their new haircuts and it was really a sweet event.”

He also announced that her work was so impactful that he is going to award her a Key to the City at the next Federal Way City Council meeting for her “really outstanding and generous service along with all the rest of the hairdressers that that spent hours really just to make a difference and make these kids feel special when they hit the doors on their first day at school.”

Also on Tuesday: