Burien City Council hears new plan to double Burien Police during critical hours 1by Jack Mayne Police Chief Scott Kimerer told the Burien City Council Monday night (May 4) that a new schedule intended to double the number of officers on the streets twice each day should start by July 1. Working with SeaTac Police – who, like the Burien force, is a contractor with the King County Sheriff’s Office – officers will begin working four-day, 10-hour shift schedules, with an overlap of two shifts between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. each day, and again between 10 p.m. and midnight, doubling manpower when it is most needed, said the chief. Working with SeaTac Police helps with supervision and occasional assistance, but the two departments will remain dedicated to the cities they work for now. In addition, the Monday night Burien City Council meeting was the first in several weeks where there have been no protestors on the street or testifying before the Council about so-called “trespass” ordinances 606 and 621. More officers visible Kimerer told the council that the city is making changes “in how we deploy police services in the city” because Burien’s rate of “calls for service” have gone up 37 percent in the last five years. “We handle almost 19,000 calls for service with 25 officers” but it does not provide “what we want to provide for the city, which is high visibility, proactive police work and the ability to interact with the community citizens and community groups.” He said the new system he hopes to be able to start on July 1, will be a “rotating 4-10 schedule” which “gives us the ability to overlap officers and the ability to double up officers at certain times.” This would give police the chance to work with other programs that interact with the people of the city. The new system will allow some bike patrols and walking patrol which people have been asking for, Kimerer said. He showed a graph of the times of peak calls, which is right around 3 p.m. when schools are letting out and an increase in population at the library, “walking through downtown,” which is a reason for the staffing changes. [caption id="attachment_85693" align="alignright" width="200"]PoliceChiefKimerer050415 Police Chief Scott Kimerer[/caption] At 9 p.m., the department has the peak of calls that require more than one officer to respond. These different times makes it difficult to report on problems, and also because the department now works on an eight-hour schedule. Kimerer said the four day a week, 10-hour schedule allows a two-hour overlap of personnel to let the officers do patrols but also to do bike patrols, contacts with Burien businesses and work with and on schools and parks. “It provides a greater flexibility for us to try to do the kind of police work we want to do in Burien,” the chief said. “It gives us a time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. where essentially we double up the number of officers we have out in the street. We can use those however we feel that it is important on that day and we will be doing strategic planning for each day to provide more visibility, to provide more policing.” The doubling again happens at 10 p.m., which is another problem time for officers. Kimerer said the police and the city are now partnering with Auburn Youth Resources (AYR) to provide counseling for substance abuse treatment and prevention, homeless housing and support services (read our previous coverage here). The new scheduling plan will help the department work with AYR, which has “been a great partner with Burien and we are starting to work with them … and it is really something that can help in dealing with a lot of the youth at risk and trying to get them help when we can,” Kimerer said. Do the officers like this? Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said she knew the changes had to be negotiated with the King County Police Officer’s Guild, but she asked how his officers felt about the change. “I think they are very excited about it because it is a four-day work week and they have three days off every week,” Kimerer said. “They are working 10 hours a day anyway, so this is not a big stretch for them. They do like to have time to do what they see out in the community that needs to be done.” He said there is no one else in the Sheriff’s Office that works “as hard as they do in Burien – they average 700 calls per officer per year. We are using the staff that we have and are moving forward.” Councilmembers wanted to know if the change would cut down on overtime costs and Kimerer said he thought it might but there needed to be time to evaluate changes before making any promises. There will be days when as many as eight officers are on during double-up periods, but on a few days there can be 19 officers on a shift at the time, including members of the SeaTac Police, and those times will be used for training although some of those days will probably be used by individuals on vacation. Burien officers are still dedicated to the city as are the SeaTac officers, he said, but the closer interrelationship should improve activity in both cities, Kimerer said. Gurol said the new plan would cost an estimated $110,000 a year, or about 1 percent added to the police budget, and the city budget was built “to accommodate this kind of cost implication” so there should be just a bit less of the annual projected budge surplus. He added that the work with the SeaTac city police will end up providing more officers on the streets of the two cities whenever an unexpected incident required a larger police presence. Comments to Councilmembers Katie Lynch lauded the Council for becoming a partner to obtain a grant to develop the Bel-R Greenhouses in northeast Burien into a local commercial food growing operation. Lynch, who lives near the greenhouses that the owners want to sell so they can retire, said she sees many potential uses for the property to retain a green atmosphere in the city. Rachel Levine said she supported the Council in “the kind of forward thinking that we need in this city … addressing a basic need like food” like the potential of the greenhouses. She added that councilmembers should “not have just one agenda, but are looking far, far into the future.” For the first time in many weeks, there were no protestors outside or inside the City Hall clamoring to speak against the trespass ordinances 606 and 621, but the public comment period returned to local people talking about local issues. Sybil Davis also thanked the Council for the “forward thinking of the exciting opportunity” of the Bel-R project. Robbie Howell said she wished that Burien had tree services like Seattle has, with small and large trees of various types and varieties. Increasing the allowance for impervious surfaces means the city is losing “its ability to grow and retain trees of significance.” Dick West, of north Burien, said the city needs to double the city police department to battle crime in the city. He says doubling the force would only cost 24 cents per thousand dollars in assessed value. “That works out to $1.2 million and the way that pencils out for the average $200,000 house in this community is just under a dollar per week,” West said. City Manager Gurol said the city would officially answer West’s emailed suggestion to increase police “in the next few days.” But said the city spends between $10 million and $11 million a year on police services so doubling the force for a million dollars “does not quite add up.” He said the city would work out the differences in the way the numbers come out so that the public has good information on the subject.]]>