As you all know it’s not getting safer in Burien and many of us have been victims or heard of mail box theft, cars prowled, home break-ins, graffiti on fences, feeling unsafe walking in our parks or even using the restrooms in the Library. We all have stories to tell of crime in our community and of the lack of response except for the most serious crimes by the police.
Serious and petty crime has been increasing substantially in Burien since 2014 when Burien was ranked the 11th most dangerous city (link to report) in Washington State.
Not long ago Police Chief Scott Kimerer reported (link to report) that crime against persons increased 11% and assaults were up 33% from the year before. He stated, “Burien used to quantify crime statistics was different from the system used in other cities in King County so he had no direct comparisons on criminal behavior from city to city.”. I interpreted this statement as saying there was no city rankings for this year and he could not state where Burien ranked compared to other cities as the most dangerous city in 2016; I’m sure we’re not getting safer.
I don’t believe crime just happens like the weather does. There are city and police policies in place that can both inhibit and contribute to these crime statistics.
Residents want to know how city and police policies are being adjusted based on learning’s from crime statistics. As a member of the city council, I want to know too; month to month and not year to year.
We need to have a community policing philosophy that recognizes that the community’s support is a critical factor in the ability of the police to effectively address crime. I’m strong advocate for the city council supporting our local police as their role is providing the police the tools, training and priorities to make their job both effective and easier.
Let me tell you a story of attending the city council meeting on June 19th where I heard residents talk about how easily your neighborhood can be corrupted by just one home owner that is negligent, possibly criminally and find that the city isn’t covering your back. Just listen to 3-4 of these residents (link to video and forward to 52:15 minutes into it) pleading with the city to do something about a situation spanning the previous year and half. Does it take 15 residents to come to a City Council meeting to beg to get the city to take some action? I came away rattled by the lack of responsiveness, compassion and then hear the city staffs response is “We’re taking notes”.
I want to see crime statistics reverse course and to improve. We should be responsive and compassionate to our residents even for non-felony crimes in our neighborhoods. I want to see the city manager and police chief discussing learning’s, policies and solutions they will put in place the same time dismal yearly crime statistics are reported.