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2012 serious crimes increased 7 percent in Burien, but overall rate remains good

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The statistics at the bottom of this story have been amended/corrected due to a typo – thanks Lee Moyer for pointing that out!]

by Ralph Nichols [1]

Part I crimes – serious offenses including murder, rape, robbery, assault, burglary and larceny – increased by 7 percent in Burien in 2012, compared to the 2011 rate for these crimes.

But, Police Chief Scott Kimerer told city council members recently, less serious Part II crimes, which include vandalism, trespassing, minor narcotics offenses and drunkenness, were down by 13 percent.

“That’s a good sign,” said Kimerer, who also noted that the city’s overall crime rate “has been within 5 to 7 percent over the last five years.”

And that isn’t bad when compared with neighboring communities, he added, “as long as we’re not seeing a high spike in crime or a large crime wave in Burien…

“It’s difficult to predict how crime patterns occur and fluctuations in crime rates. Crime statistics fluctuate. Sometimes they go up, sometimes they go down,” he said.

Little increases in crime will occur, “but you don’t want to see crime trends increasing in Burien at a faster rate than surrounding communities,” Kimerer continued. “You don’t want to see a large crime increase.”

The 2010 annexation by Burien of the south half of the North Highline unincorporated area “did not result in a large increase in Part I crimes in the city,” he said.

A primary target of Burien police has been reducing street violence, and patrol officers. And, Kimerer reported, the narcotics division and the gang unit found and took off the streets 114 illegal guns – including 3 machine guns – in 2012.

These guns were destroyed rather than resold.

Calls received by Burien police were up 10 percent per officer in 2012 compared to 2011, with dispatched calls up by 7 percent. Burien has just over one officer for every 1,000 city residents.

“We want people to call in to the police department and report crime when they see it as it happens,” Kimerer said. “This is a driving factor for everything else that is going on….

“We have a tremendous Block Watch Program with high numbers of people participating for a city our size.”

Complaints against Burien police officers jumped to 15 in 2012, compared to one each in 2009 and 2010 and three in 2011.

But, he explained, this is the result of an increase in transparency with an improved response to such complaints resulting from improved procedures within the King County Sheriff’s Office over the past three years.

Two Highline cities – Burien and SeaTac – are among 12 King County cities that contract with the sheriff’s office for police services.

Burien pays only for the actual costs of service it incurs, and “over the past four years we have saved the city over $1.6 million,” Kimerer added.

“We have a fiscal responsibility … we realize we account for the largest percent of the city budget.”

Councilman Jack Block Jr. voiced support for “more taxes” to hire two more officers “for proactive police work” – which he also advocated during last fall’s budget writing process.

Block wanted to use a federal grant obtained by the police department to pay for the two officers, but other council members didn’t agree.

That grant would have paid only 25 percent of the salary for these officers, countered Councilman Gerald Robison.

“Burien compares very favorably with crime rates in surrounding cities,” Robison noted.

He said that as they crafted the city’s 2013-14 budget, council members “held back on expenses and dipped into savings” one time to avoid a tax increase during the recession.

Councilwoman Joan McGilton said that with 52 percent of Burien’s general fund budget paying for law enforcement, the city already “does support” its police department.

To add two additional officers would mean “decreasing the operating budget by $2 million or a levy to increase taxes.”

Turning to Kimerer, she added, “You’re doing a dynamite job.”

Burien Crime Statistics:

Part I Crimes:

2012 Violent Crime Rate:

Part II Crimes:

Property Crime Comparison:

Overall Crime Rate Comparison:

Dispatched Calls for Service:

Calls per Officer:

Average Response Time to Calls:

Call Response Goals:

Cases Closed by Arrest:

Traffic Accidents:

KCSO Contract Cost per Capita:

Murders:

Rapes:

Aggravated Assault:

Robberies:

Arson:

Burglaries:

Larcenies:

Vehicle thefts:

Thefts/Attempted Thefts from Vehicles:

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