The City of Burien on Thursday (March 9) issued a statement in response to the ‘Rally Against Crime’ held outside and at the City Council meeting on Monday night, March 6.

In the statement – published in its entirety below – the city addresses specific safety concerns voiced by residents, and also offered corrections and clarifications to some of the statements that were made during the public comment period.

“Like other cities in our region and across the country, we are trying to strike a balance between public safety and protecting the civil rights of our most vulnerable neighbors and residents,” the City said. “Burien is an urban area with similar issues that other cities face. Like other communities in the region, we are experiencing an increase in criminal activity. This is a troubling trend and the Burien Police Department and the City of Burien are taking steps to stop crime in our community.”

The City added that police, jail and court services consume 52% of its General Fund budget. The City Council approved funding in fall 2016 to add two new officers to the Burien Police Department’s Proactive Team by this summer.

“Unlike reactive patrol officers whose primary duty is to respond to 911 calls, the Proactive Team is able to spend more time and effort in examining the root issue of repeated 911 calls and seek to reduce or eliminate the cause,” the City said.

Crime statistics for 2016 are still being analyzed, and will be presented to the Council in late April or May.

Here’s the City’s full statement:

Making Burien a Welcoming Space for All Residents

Response to Rally for Public Safety on March 6, 2017

Protecting public safety and maintaining a clean environment throughout our city is one of the top priorities for the City of Burien and City Council. Everyone should feel welcome and safe using our parks, going to the library, and shopping in Downtown Burien.

Like other cities in our region and across the country, we are trying to strike a balance between public safety and protecting the civil rights of our most vulnerable neighbors and residents. Burien is an urban area with similar issues that other cities face. Like other communities in the region, we are experiencing an increase in criminal activity. This is a troubling trend and the Burien Police Department and the City of Burien are taking steps to stop crime in our community.

Adding Resources to the Burien Police Department
The City of Burien contracts with King County Sherriff’s Department for police services. Police, jail and court services consume 52% of our General Fund budget. The City Council approved funding in fall 2016 to add two new members to the Burien Police Department’s Proactive Team by this summer.

This team already has two detectives assigned to it who work closely with our civilian community police officer. Unlike reactive patrol officers whose primary duty is to respond to 911 calls, the Proactive Team is able to spend more time and effort in examining the root issue of repeated 911 calls and seek to reduce or eliminate the cause.

Some of the duties the new officers will be performing include bicycle patrol, foot patrol, attendance at community meetings, and working with our social service providers to provide outreach to our most vulnerable residents. They will also focus on our business community, ensuring shoppers feel safe when visiting area businesses. For the past few months, in response to a request from the City, the Burien Police Department is also using more overtime resources to address illegal activity in Downtown Burien.

Cooperation between City, Police, and King County Library System
KCLS and the City are working together to address criminal activity and other hazardous situations around the City Hall/Library building by closing the area surrounding the building during non-business hours, just as parks are closed after dusk. By doing this, we intend to discourage people from coming to the area to sell and buy drugs and engage in other illicit activities. We also hope to reduce the number of crimes related to drug activity, including thefts and assaults. And finally, we intend to reduce the number of biohazard incidents that are creating a public health hazard.

There is also ongoing cooperation between City Hall, the library and police department to clarify rules around the shared City Hall/Library building so that the police department can better address behavior such as public intoxication, use of drugs in public spaces, littering (including improper disposal of sharps in our parks and public spaces), and aggressive panhandling.

The City of Burien and KCLS employ off-duty police officers inside the building during business hours. The officers also walk around the building and patrol the garage.

Maintaining Clean Streets and Parks
The City of Burien is working with partners to maintain clean and safe streets and parks. The City of Burien has a contract with Discover Burien to fund pickup of garbage and litter on sidewalks in the downtown area. KCLS sends maintenance staff out every day to clean sidewalks surrounding the library. The Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Services Department have both contracted and City staff that perform routine parks maintenance tasks. These workers also respond to vandalism and other destructive acts.

We encourage citizens to let us know when they see something to call the Parks Department (206-988-3700) so we can address issues in a timely manner. Landscaping in Town Square Park is also being maintained in such a way to make it more difficult for people to engage in illegal behavior and hide from public view.

Supporting Human Services
Often, a discussion of public safety overlaps with discussions about how to best address the needs of the homeless or those suffering from mental health conditions or addiction. Not everyone who is committing crimes in Burien is homeless or has a mental illness. In fact, people experiencing homelessness and people experiencing mental illness or addiction are often the victims of criminal activity.

The City of Burien currently supports several organizations within our community that are working to help people experiencing homelessness, addiction or mental illness. For those interested in what the City will be doing to address homelessness in our community, we encourage you to attend our March 20th City Council meeting where potential strategies and solutions will be discussed.

Fostering Trust between Residents, Business Owners, and Police
For several years now, the Burien Police Department has worked with local business owners to create a Business Watch. The purpose of the Business Watch is to 1) provide business owners a way to speak directly with the police on public safety issues and 2) provide education to business owners about ways they can help make Burien a safer place.

To foster trust between immigrant communities and the government, the King County Sherriff’s Department and City of Burien have adopted a policy that states law enforcement and City personnel will not ask about a person’s immigration status. The policy is designed to make people feel comfortable and willing to interact with police to help solve crimes. The policy does not allow or encourage undocumented individuals to commit crimes without punishment. The ordinance ensures our local police force and city staff can focus on their jobs, instead of handling immigration matters best left to federal immigration officers.

Stopping Crime Requires Community-Wide Effort
Crime is an issue in every community across the country. There is not one root cause, and therefore there can’t be just one solution. Stopping crime requires a community-wide effort. The City is doing what we can to address public safety issues in our community. We value the role that our residents, parents, schools, and local business community play in creating a safe Burien.

Response to Statements Made during Public Comment of City Council Meeting, March 6, 2017
Thank you to the residents who took time out of their busy lives to voice their concerns about public safety. Engaged citizens make government work better. We would like to offer corrections and clarifications to some of the statements were made during the public comments period:

  • Hit and runs are a gang initiation ritual. According to the King County Sherriff’s Department gang experts, this is false.
  • There has been an eight percent increase in gang activity. Crime stats for 2016 are still being analyzed. They will be presented to Council in late April or May.
  • The Council discussed reducing the Police Department staff. The draft 2017-2018 budget proposed adding two new officers to the existing Burien Police Department staff. City Council had a policy discussion about whether adding two new police officers or adding human services staff would be the best way to address the public safety concerns in Downtown Burien. The Council ultimately voted to fund two new additional police officers.
  • Parks Department is no longer holding day camps at Dottie Harper Park. Day camps are still being held at Dottie Harper Park. Over the past few years, the Parks Department has increased the amount of cleanup patrols and other maintenance levels to ensure a safe and clean camp environment. The Parks Department has increased security in Dottie Harper Park and the neighboring skate park during the summer months. The playground at the park has been completely renovated and it is regularly used by local families and daycare centers.
  • The day camps we provide are extremely popular and fill up quickly every season. There is always a waiting list. Historically, 76 percent of campers return the next year, which is a high return rate considering the camps serve grades 1 through 5 and kids in that age group will age out of the program.

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22 replies on “City of Burien issues statement in response to ‘Rally Against Crime’ protest”

  1. Um, I have direct experience with gang task forces. They are usually made up of cops with ‘zero’ actual inside gang experience because you cannot become a cop if you have a serious criminal background.

    These cops learn from some book or ‘training’ session they attend. The cops have ZERO idea what is actually happening inside these gangs and these gangs do NOT operate according to a cops booklet.

    Gangs operate according to whatever they decide to do.

    1. It’s Horrible, and it’s been worse than ever this past year. The prostitute, drugs and addicts that hang out there daily makes me want to move out of this city and invest my hard earned money into a community that invests in me and my family. I’ve taken my kids to the Boulevard Park library once, we won’t be going back.

  2. The above statement reads like a PR piece and accomplishes NOTHING to reduce the crime. Stop passing the buck around and patting yourselves on the back. The crime in Burien is the worse I have ever scene. Are you waiting for it to actually get worse before you address the persons responsible?? Are you waiting for a savage murder to occur? Are you waiting for an innocent kid to be assaulted at the library?

    Stop pandering and start showing us some results = lower crime & less vagrants. PLEASE!

    1. Please read this statement from pamf2. It is absolutely factual in its content and purpose. The statement from the city is “lipstick on a pig”. Who are you kidding with the cities statement of we are adding resources from the library, city, parks deparment to pick up the chaos from these vagarant fools who are destroying our city. To the PR hack that wrote this statement it sounds good. To those of us that live with these outlaw vagrants on a daily basis the cleanup should never be necessary since the mess and vagarant lowlifes hanging out at cityhall at 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 AM in the morning never should have been allowed! What civil right do these oeople have to drug, drink, shootup, vomit, pee, defecate, lay in a heap, drug deal on the city hall plaza…tell me…well according to this PR piece it is all cleaned up by 11 AM by the parks department, library janitorial staff etc…Where is the dignity for those workers? This city has it “assbackwards” as usual. Bunch of gutless wonders…we deserve better…you want ideas…face the truth…it’s in front of you on the plaza and in the parks and library. You should be ashamed of yourselves for the city response!

  3. on more thing – your state that …”We are trying to strike a balance between public safety and protecting the civil rights of our most vulnerable neighbors and residents. ….”

    It is the residents and business that are the vulnerable ones!!! Paying the taxes and then getting robbed, assaulted, and otherwise victimized.


    1. Just wondering dear council, after reading your BS article that still does not really address the issues….those residents of Burien who are getting robbed, beaten, houses and cars getting broken into or stolen, property destroyed etc. Where are our civil rights? I guess since we work and are not addicted to drugs, we are not homeless, we pay taxes (which by the way does nothing for this city since you all decide to waste it on $250K sign to re-brand “a drug, gang and homeless ridden city”. ”We are trying to strike a balance between public safety and protecting the civil rights of our most vulnerable neighbors and residents. ….” Again…we are citizens who pay the taxes that pay for your BS ideas. Doesn’t this qualify as discrimination against the working class since our rights are trampled upon?

      1. Thanks to irritated for bringing up the stupid waste of money that new logo is. For $250k we could be talking about 4 new cops instead of only 2.

      2. Curious. IT was probable staff who wrote this stuff but I would have to guess that the council had to vote on this before it went out and that the staff writer was given parameters on what to write to make certain council members look good.

        So all of the citizens should be officially informed as to who wrote it and what vote was there? Who voted how? It looks like and sounds like a PR job.

  4. By using the term, our “most vulnerable citizens” What you really mean is drug addicts and. crazy homeless, but you will never say it.

    I suggest You good folks on the city council, take these poor vulnerable folks into your home. Put your money where your mouth is

    After all, if they are such good people why would you not? Or maybe, because you leave at 5, and all this becomes an esoteric argument to you. As you do not deal with the crime and filth

  5. Providing a safe haven for the homeless sounds great in theory. Helping the less fortunate and giving back is a moral responsibility. The reality however, is that people are coming to Burien and our surrounding neighborhoods in droves from all over the country because of our “open door” “leniency” ideology. The reality is that they are bringing drugs and crime into our community at an unbelievable rate. The reality is that we are all being put into a very bad situation that is gaining major steam and is close to snowballing out of control.

    We don’t have enough police to keep up with the amount of crimes that are being committed. An unacceptable amount of it goes under policed and even unnoticed. All that does is lead to more crime and gives the wrong side momentum. The police protect us. They keep the bad guys away and keep us safe so we can raise up good guys. When you handcuff them, you handcuff yourself.

    Please people, stop being so naive. Open your eyes and think for yourself. You think your helping but you’re enabling. Our city will continue to become more and more unsafe if you continue to turn your head and not demand better.

  6. If the addicts/homeless/gangs don’t respect the law, why should we respect them?

    Kick em all to the curb as soon as possible.

    If you’re loitering, you gotta go.

    I don’t care if it’s not “PC”

    Political correctness got Burien into this mess to begin with.

    There is a reason that liberal cities are crime filled. You give em an inch, they will take a yard.

    We need a serious hard ass running this town. Not a bunch of snowflakes.

  7. Sounds like the council is patting citizens on the head and saying “everything is under control.”

      1. No kidding! Now if they had used Mother Jones, Daily Kos or Huffington Post, that would be fine, right?

      2. Here is follow up on hit and run gang initiation rituals article Eleveal posted. And to “Beach” who’s moronic response was OH it’s from Fox News, how can you believe that- Do some research, try to look intelligent, stop the childish name calling, and perhaps we might take you somewhat seriously in the future. As of right now, you look really immature…

  8. Well,
    Thank you City of Burien for your official response to the out-pouring of grief most of you witnessed at the last Council meeting.
    My question has finally been answered. I’ve been wondering exactly what the City has been doing in response to SO MANY residents in the area who have complained they cannot use the facility due to its becoming, essentially, a day shelter for the homeless amongst us, and a haven for drug sellers. How on earth are young families going to go browse with their young children for a stack of books to take home as they have to stumble over passed-out people occupying seats that should be available to patrons of the library? And perhaps you could include in your next response the dialogue parents should deploy as their kids ask, “what’s wrong with that person?” “Is he OK?”

    I am personally amazed to see what has transpired thinking back to the previous Burien Library which was located a few blocks away from the current “new and improved Library.”
    Night and day. And thus far, the City hasn’t done a thing about it. WHAT IS HAPPENING?!

  9. Two cops on bikes attending community meetings is a token effort, not a real attempt to clean up the city. I support offering assistance to people in need but if they refuse the offer, “encourage” them to leave the city. I also agree with keeping a “balance” but we are a country of laws and a certain level of civility should be expected and required. Pandering to individuals who want to live without rules / consequences is not compassion, it’s erroneous, dangerous and the opposite of compassion.

  10. Who is minding the store? That’s what I want to know! There seems to be very little deterrence to the criminal activity that continues in downtown Burien. Sorry, but the only civil rights being violated are that of the law abiding, tax paying citizens. While hard times may fall on people and this is most unfortunate, these are not the people of which we speak, sagging, smoking, littering, pissing, barfing are all lazy, degenerate behaviors that are now accepted as part of great American fabric, I literally cry when I think about where this country is headed, the rich shamelessly continue to abscond with our money, and now are digging in deeper, it is the worst filth I have ever witnessed. So sad/mad.

  11. Within the City’s response, it state that “The council discussed reducing the Police… ans that the council ultimately voted to fund two police officers.”

    What some of the comments at the council meeting (particularly mine) and above comments are addressing are the words and beliefs of some of the council members in regarding to hiring more police. I mentioned that a council member had actually wanted take out (not hire) the two officers. I was wrong.

    Two council members are on video making statements against the hiring of twp police officers. Lauren Berkowitz and Nancy Tosta. Surprise.

    To support my claim I ask readers to go on to the City’s website and look at the video tapes of the August 1st meeting. At about the 41:10 mark of the meeting Lauren Berkowitz can be heard (she did not show up) saying about the hiring of two more officers, ” …I strongly opposed to this…” and “…probably make problem worse…”.

    Then at the 45:02 mark Council member Tosta begins. At the 45:51 mark she states she is, “not supportive of adding more police… .”

    So while the full council did finally vote to add two more police officers let there be NO doubt in any ones’ mind that there were and are two council members, on record, as not in favor of adding more police. PLEASE go to the video.

  12. Stop calling these criminals “Vulnerable.” I hear that all the time from the enablers. I’m sick of hearing “vulnerable.” I see “vulnerable” woven into every statement put out by the enablers. Stop saying it!!!

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