Violent crime in Burien declined in 2013
Despite headlines from Seattle and some suburban cities, which render an illusion of violent crime rampant in King County, most serious crime in Burien declined in 2013.
This topped the good news that Chief Scott Kimerer recently delivered in the department’s annual report to the Burien City Council.
“In 2013, our overall crime rate in the city remained static with significant decreases [of over 30 percent] in violent crimes,” Kimerer told council members.
Major crimes against persons, classified as Part I crimes by the FBI, are murder, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery.
But, he added, “We did see an increase in property crimes, which remains a priority focus for our department. We will remain vigilant to keep Burien safe.”
Police crime prevention efforts include “reducing crime and fear of crime by using problem solving approaches that reduce calls to repeat locations, and involving the successful programs such as Block Watch and Citizen Patrol.”
Burien had 60 Part I crimes per 1,000 residents last year. This compares to 55 Part I crimes per 1,000 residents in 2009 – the year before the city annexed about half of the unincorporated North Highline area.
For the second time during this five-year period, there were no murders in the city in 2013. Two murders were recorded in 2009 and only one each in 2011 and 2012.
After peaking at 52 in 2010, the number of rapes dropped to 38 last year. Aggravated assaults declined from a high of 123 in 2012 to 73 last year. And robberies fell from 95 in 2010 to 66 in 2013.
Part I property crimes – arson, burglary, larceny, vehicle thefts, and thefts from vehicles – were a different story.
Arsons fell from a high of 14 in 2010 to only 5 in 2012, but jumped back up to 13 last year.
Burglaries have increase steadily from 359 in 2009 to 700 in 2013, as have larcenies [property thefts not involving illegal entry], which have climbed from 981 to 1,455 during this time.
Vehicle thefts declined slightly from 594 in 2012 to 529 last year, but thefts from vehicles continue to rise with 576 reported in 2013.
Traffic accidents in Burien have trended upward from 319 in 2009 to 412 last year.
There were 1,745 criminal cases closed by arrests in 2013 – described by Kimerer as a significant indicator of successful crime solving by the police. Those arrested included 1,264 adult offenders and 86 juveniles.
Kimerer emphasized that the increase in property crimes “clearly is not acceptable,” yet “trying to stop them is very difficult … burglaries have been on a steady rise ever since the economy tanked.”
However, “we’re not seeing large increases in crime, so we’re doing something that keeps crime down. We’re trying to arrest the right people, those who commit multiple offenses … we solve a lot of burglaries with one arrest.”
He added, “We are working very hard for a department our size.”
The chief also noted that 107 illegal guns were confiscated during investigations and arrests last year – 86 handguns, 19 rifles, and two shotguns. “We’re taking guns away from the bad guys. They won’t be able to use them in another crime.”
Before Kimerer made his presentation to council members, Sheriff John Urquhart told them that, as sheriff, “my goal is to reaffirm our commitment to our King County Sheriff’s Office partners” – the 12 cities, including Burien and SeaTac, that contract for police services with that agency.
The contract cities make the sheriff’s office “a better police department” as it saves them money through economies of scale while affording them “a higher degree of police professionalism.”
But, Urquhart continued, “The only way a police department can be effective is if it’s a mirror of the community it serves.”
Noting that South King County includes a diverse population that is far from all white, he said he successfully lobbied the county’s civil service commission to allow for fluency in other languages and experience beyond the military, including Peace Corps service, in selecting sheriff’s office recruits.