Burien City Manager Brian Wilson releases statement on Public Safety


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Despite trends that show crime is actually decreasing, recent events have shown that City, County, and regional leaders need to come together to address the unacceptable violence that is harming our community.

The City of Burien announced Thursday morning (Sept. 27) that it is “taking immediate steps to protect our community while at the same time investing in long-term solutions.”

Following is the city’s full announcement:

Immediate action to protect the community
The Burien Police Department has established additional patrols, enhanced enforcement, investigation resources, and increased regional intelligence sharing capabilities to address the significant community safety concerns regarding violence in the community.

The purpose of this emphasis is to dissuade further acts of violence and reassure the community regarding police presence and safety. In addition to enhanced police presence, efforts will be focused on identifying and arresting those responsible for criminal behavior and violence. Patrol efforts will be coordinated with major crimes investigators. Crime trend data and intelligence will be utilized to address criminal behavior and minimize the impacts to the general public.

The Burien City Council directed the City Manager on September 24, 2018 to present options on ways to enhance public safety in Burien. The City Manager is developing strategies that combine both additional Burien Police Department resources and community support services. Funding strategies will be presented as well.

Regional and collective action must be taken
Violence, often linked to gangs, is a regional issue. The City supports a regional approach to addressing gangs and gun violence and supports efforts to bring additional resources to a regional gang task force. Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht announced Monday her request for funding for a Regional Gang Unit. She called on south King County communities to contribute staff to this regional unit. The Burien Police Department will be a part of this effort.

During the September 24, 2018 Council Meeting, Chief Theodore Boe outlined some of the systemic issues that his police department faces when they try to take dangerous individuals off the streets. It is important to address the community safety concerns and threats regarding youth and adults who engage in gun violence and place the community at risk.

The City is also working with the Burien Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, King County Prosecuting Attorney (KCPAO), Highline School District, South King County cities, police departments, and federal agencies (FBI, U.S. Marshals Service, and ATF) as partners in a regional effort to address gangs and gun violence.

Prevention requires community trust
Concern has been expressed within the community that the City’s “immigration status ordinance” and King County policies and directives (General Orders Manual 5.05.010Burien Municipal Code 2.26.020King County Code 2.15.020) are causing or allowing this type of violence to occur. As Chief Boe articulated in his presentation to Council on July 2, 2018, these policies do not prevent law enforcement and the prosecutor’s office from prosecuting criminal behavior. The aim of these policies is to increase trust between the community and law enforcement, which aids in the investigation of criminal behavior. People are more likely to report crimes and serve as witnesses when there are strong relationships between the police and the community.

Long-term strategy
The City supports long-term prevention strategies and the implementation of programs and services to reduce youth and adult crime in the community. The City Council adopted on August 6, 2018 a Framework for Strengthening Families to address the root causes of youth violence, crime, and gang involvement. The framework guides efforts to create the local infrastructure needed to protect children, youth, and families so that concrete action steps can be taken with measureable results.

The City of Burien has taken steps to establish long-term solutions to tackle violence in our community. These steps include:

  • Formation of a Human Services Commission and the hiring of the City’s first Human Services Manager. The Commission consists of experts in human services. The Commission evaluates the effectiveness of human services and provides funding recommendations to the City Council. The Human Services Manager coordinates and seeks services and funding and supports direct outreach and intervention work.
  • City staff will be recommending expansion of existing social support services for youth. Expanded opportunities for programs and services from agencies such as Centro Rendu and Leadership, Intervention & Change (LINC), two successful programs that divert youth from gang involvement.
  • The Human Services Commission is recommending support for a core group of services that specifically support youth through the City of Burien’s General Fund, Human Services Funding. Council will vote to authorize the Human Service Commission’s recommendations on October 1, 2018.
  • The Human Services Commission is recommending $45,000 of funding from the City’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) be directed to Southwest Youth and Family Services New Futures program. This funding will enable the New Futures program to place culturally appropriate afterschool and family support programming in the Alturas Apartments. It has shown positive results in the Woodridge Park Apartments and other locations where it is currently operating. This amount equals 100 percent of the CDBG dollars allocated to human services. City Council will also vote on this recommendation on October 1, 2018.
  • The City invests in recreation programs that serve youth, including Teen Late Night and other afterschool programs.

The root causes of violence in our community are multi-faceted and complex. Creating lasting community solutions requires the collective work of many organizations and problem-solvers who pursue common goals and bring varied perspectives, resources, and areas of expertise. The Framework establishes a process to seek community feedback on how to best serve families in our community. By convening families and other key stakeholders, the City can identify where gaps exist and how to improve the coordination of services.

PRESS CONFERENCE
Below is video recorded live (courtesy KOMO News) at a press conference on public safety held Thursday morning:

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