EDITOR’S NOTE: South King Media Founder/Publisher Scott Schaefer serves on the Board of Directors for the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce.

Story & Video by Scott Schaefer

On Wednesday night, Oct. 20, 2021 the Seattle Southside Chamber of Commerce held its quarterly Burien District Roundtable as an online event, focusing on public safety, crime and fire prevention with emphasis on businesses in the Burien/White Center area.

“The number one concern in our community is crime and public safety,” chamber organizers said.

Speakers included Burien Police Chief Ted Boe, Aaron Burkhalter and Sam Wolff from Burien’s LEAD program, King County Fire District No. 2 Chief Mike Marrs, along with various chamber members.

Chief Boe said that the City of Burien is the busiest King County Sheriff’s Office partner city, with the sixth highest crime rate of ten cities in the region, at 82.2 per 1000 residents.

With just 48 officers, the city has lowest rate at .92 officers for every 1000 residents.

The cost per resident is the lowest however, at $261.85:

VIDEO: Public safety, crime & fire prevention discussed at Burien District Roundtable event 1

Boe also discussed the latest stats about the Burien Police Department:

    • 43.8 Officers budgeted (39 Filled)
    • 3-4 Patrol Officers per shift with overlap
    • Contract with King County Sheriff’s Office
    • 21,000 calls for service (busiest King County Partner City)
    • Building Trust…every interaction, every time
    • Fighting Crime is a team sport, everyone has a role to play in safety
    • Supporting each other…must support employees to get results

He also shared some tips on how to avoid crimes, including:

    • Don’t hand car thieves your keys:
      • Don’t warm up or leave your car running while grabbing coffee, dropping kids off, or for short stops at stores, etc.
    • Porch Pirates:
      • Have packages delivered to work, a safe pick up box, club house, apartment manager, friend, etc.
      • Know when your packages are arriving and track them
      • Get packages off the porch as soon as they arrive
      • Get a locking mailbox
      • Don’t mail cash
    • Car Prowls:
      • Don’t leave your car unlocked, or purses/briefcases, shopping bags etc. visible in cars
      • Put valuables in trunk
    • General crime trends:
      • Fentanyl Deaths are up
      • Crime is up Statewide and Local (+7.1%)
      • Property Crime continues to increase Statewide and Local (+13.8%)
      • Catalytic converters thefts from autos increasing
      • Fraud (mostly through the state Employment Security Department)
      • Larceny and burglary up
    • Burien PD Responses:
      • Grant for Storefront
      • Park and Neighborhood Patrol Funding
      • CO-LEAD Program Development
      • Deploy New Equipment (PBT, RADAR, Cameras and Investigative Tools)
      • Business Alarm Dispatching
      • Focused/ Data Driven Patrol

Boe also discussed some features coming soon to local policing, including a Community Response Team (EMT and MHP), Business Outreach Care Coordinator, a dedicated Storefront Officer through Discover Burien, changes to the department via a new selected Sheriff in 2022, online reporting options and more.

“One of the other things coming next year in Burien is a bigger look at what were the gaps in the system here, and one of them was about having a dedicated mental health navigator on the street in our community,” Boe said. “This person would work 40 hours a week partnered with an EMT to help navigate people into the system on the ground when we’re dealing with them in the moment, so I think having that in our community as opposed to having hours to days to get to the scene and having that dedicated staff working within our system, working with the partners to the city, I think that having an expert on the inside here in our community is going to help us in a lot of ways.”

Fire Chief Marrs discussed the rash of recent fires in the White Center area, and said that only one was considered arson so far. Other causes for fires over the summer included possible vagrant fires within abandoned buildings, as well as smoking materials smoldering in planter boxes or other areas with beauty bark, then igniting buildings they were too close to.

Watch the full video below (running time 1-hour, 24-minutes):