By Jack Mayne

Burien’s crime rate is increasing as it is in other cities in south King County, according to Police Chief Scott Kimerer in his annual report to the City Council on Monday night (April 24).

“I can tell you that I have talked to the other chiefs in South King County … they are not seeing anything different that we are seeing. Crime is not only up in Burien,” Kimerer said, “it is across south King County and some places more so than us.”

“Crime is up and we are having incidents of violent crime, of property crime,” Kimerer said.

“They are all up … pretty much across the board,” Kimerer said. “I have not seen that kind of increase in a lot of our crimes so consistently since I have been here and I have been here 14 years.”

$224 per taxpayer
Burien’s police budget for 2015 was $11.2 million to pay for the contract for services from the King County Sheriff’s Office. The city has 41 officers, including detectives and supervisors, 26 patrol officers, plus a sergeant.

Last year the officers cost the city $217,327, or $224 for each citizen in the city.

In comparison, Seattle taxpayers paid almost twice as much per officer, $437, and taxpayers in SeaTac, also with a police force contracted from the Sheriff’s Office, each were charged $350 for police. The two other smaller, bordering cities with their own taxpayer paid police departments a bit more than Burien taxpayers. Des Moines citizens each paid $257 for police while Normandy Park citizens paid $227 each for police.

But for cities with more population than Burien, for example Redmond, taxpayers each paid $281 for police protection and those in over twice at populous Bellevue each paid $224 for police services.

Neighboring Tukwila taxpayers got the really biggest bill of $824, but keep in mind the Southcenter Mall is there to help residents pay the tab.

No comparisons
Kimerer cautioned that the system Burien used to quantify crime statistics was different from the system used in other cities in King County so he had no direct comparisons on criminal behavior from city to city. The city will soon change to the prevailing system so comparisons should be possible next year.

The report shows the Burien rate for all major crimes – against persons and property – were up 11 percent last year to 256.

“The biggest driver of that was aggravated assaults,” he said, which went up 33 percent. Aggravated assaults are defined as unlawful attack by one person upon another to inflict severe or aggravated bodily injury.

Kimerer told the Council said that Burien was up from the previous year, but also over the past five years, the rate was up “31 percent in crimes against persons.” His figures showed aggravated assaults were up 33 percent overall and crimes against persons up 11 percent.

Last year was not far off the high year in 2013, the chief said.

The major crime rate includes murder, manslaughter and traffic fatalities, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

So far this year there have been two murders, he said.

There were four murders last year, the highest in the past four years, with gangland style activity along Ambaum. There were three murders in 2014, one in 2012 but none in 2013 and 2015.

His report showed patrol officers confiscated 243 guns, but with other police units, the confiscations are “into the 400s.”

“It is a big push for us, we want to get the guns off the street,” Kimerer told the Council.

Rape up, robbery flat
There were 49 rapes last year, compared with 44 in 2015 and 43 in 2012.

Robberies were about flat, with 77 this past year – significantly down from peak years of 1012 and 2014.

“This is a pattern we’ve seen in the past,” he said, with domestic violence “always very high” at 37 percent.

There was a 7 percent increase in assaults at regional Highline Hospital, Kimerer said, “so we get people who are being involuntarily committed, either drug/alcohol overdose or mental issues for not just Burien, but from all over south King County.”

“Stranger assaults” account for about a “fairly low 7 percent” of “serious assaults,” which also include drive-by shootings, road rage or other serious problems.

“I don’t want to give the impression to our residents that you’re not safe out there, because it is not what is happening,” the police chief said. “The majority of these are parties that know each other – a bar fight, some other kind of dispute over property…”

Vehicle theft up
Property crimes include narcotics violations and frauds, along with minor assaults, totaled 3,887 in last year, or up about 5 percent.

They have been increasing the past few years but last year was the low year, Kimerer said. Here burglaries are up but down 21 percent over the 2013 high. Larceny is down.

But auto theft is way up, 18 percent over last 25 percent up over the five year high in 2014.

“We are seeing where they are getting dumped, we are arresting people, but it just seems to be one of those hot items that people are doing right now,” he said.

Assault, trespass, vandalism and other “Part II” crimes are mostly up:

Trespass crimes are up 11 percent over last year and 64 percent over the low in 2013

Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, on the telephone, asked if it was just public property trespass increases but Kimerer said it was for both public and private property.

But liquor violations concerned the chief, because for four years there were an average of 5.15 for an entire year but there were 136 violations just last year, “a 1,950 percent increase.”

“Those are most likely drinking in public – in the parks,” where he said the department put emphasis because so many people had complained of drinking in parks. They put an officer on foot patrol in parks and “I think he had responsibility for some of those. I know for a fact that he would not do a violation without first warning somebody. If he did a violation it was because it was repeated behavior.”

Councilmember Bob Edgar asked about the 29 percent increase in vandalism over last year.

Kimerer said the most visible vandalism is tagging, which entails spray painting on walls or fences, often with the repeated use of a single symbol or series of symbols to mark territory. Vandalism also includes breaking a fence or a window or malicious destruction of property.

“We have had a lot of incidents of gang tagging this year and last year, that could be some of the increase we’ve seen but the general tagging of kids writing on walls and fences and buildings – we see it all over in downtown,” the chief said. “We generally catch them if they are taggers because they go to high school and the SRO (school resource officer) can see if they are having the same tagging on their Pee Chee at school – so we catch a lot of them.”

Mayor Krakowiak added that the city “got tagged quite heavily” over the last weekend.

Arrests up
Complaints against police officers – which Kimerer’s report said were those that can “originate from the public or internal police department personnel” – were up a bit, although there were more dispatched calls, 34,408 in 2016.

The number of complaints was 55 in 2016 vs. 40 the previous year, but calls for service increased by 1,675 in the same period:

Adults arrested by Burien Police were 1,505 last year; the majority of 1,222 were for misdemeanor violations. Juvenile arrests totaled just 87 in 2016, again the majority of 65 were for misdemeanor crimes.

DUI focus
Kimerer said enforcement of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are up 23 percent over 2015 and 52 percent over five years. Last year the department formed a dedicated DUI enforcement position.

Making 69 DUI arrests in the forth quarter of 2016, Officer Mark Silverstein earned the Washington State Traffic Safety Commission’s Holiday Campaign “Top Performer” award.

“We’re still trying to get the message out, ‘don’t drink and drive in Burien,’” Kimerer told the Council, referring to Silverstein as a “machine getting DUIs – there is no place safe.”

Still no new City Manager
Mayor Lucy Krakowiak started the study session by saying that there would be no motion on the agenda item “regarding next steps in the city manager search” because “we are still deliberating on that.” Apparently none of the earlier selected candidates have achieved acceptance from a majority of the Council, a group rather well known for being split on major decisions.

Senior Reporter Jack Mayne passed away in December, 2021. In his honor we have created the Jack Mayne Journalism Scholarship.

47 replies on “Crime increasing in Burien, along with everywhere in S. King County, Chief says”

  1. For the worthy among us, them being incarcerated or executed I’ll gladly pay more in taxes.

    1. Question Authority – I mean Ebenezer:

      “At this festive season of the year, Mr Scrooge, … it is more than usually desirable that we should make some slight provision for the Poor and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many thousands are in want of common necessaries; hundreds of thousands are in want of common comforts, sir.”
      “Are there no prisons?”
      “Plenty of prisons…”
      “And the Union workhouses.” demanded Scrooge. “Are they still in operation?”
      “Both very busy, sir…”
      “Those who are badly off must go there.”
      “Many can’t go there; and many would rather die.”
      “If they would rather die,” said Scrooge, “they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.”

      1. I did not reference the poor or destitute among us, I mentioned the worthy as in criminals who break laws and deserve applicable legal punishment. Hugs, not handcuffs doesn’t work to deter crime.

  2. 11% increase in trespass? 1950% increase in liquor violations? Hmmm I wonder what is the big driver for that? Could it possibly be our increase in the Homeless population?

    No I am sure it is not, They are after all just good folks down on their luck. Right?

    1. The article says that the increase in liquor violations comes from having a foot patrolman in likely areas, like the parks. That patrolman gives warnings first, but then enforces tha law. So, If a city like ours wants to be tough on a particular crime, they take steps like this to curb the problem. it seems most likely that the same problem was there before, most probably even worse, before someone was available to enforce the law. I think we need to consider that we may see increases in some numbers because our police force is stepping up, say in liquor and DUI offenses. While I am sure it is easier to blame the homeless than any deeper introspection, the truth is that many of these are not necessarily crimes that would be committed by the homeless in particular.

      1. You are cherry picking, in the way you express the article enforcement was increased because of an increase in complaints, who do you think these folks might be? 2nd shift Boeing workers?
        Very unlikely, have a doubt, talk to the police, as I have they will tell you exactly who these folks are. And yes it is the homeless

    2. Leroy, A certain amount of the increase is due to how liquor is now sold at so many retail outlets rather than state run liquor stores. There have been a few investigative reports on the local news stations about the problem of liquor theft. They showed store videos of well dressed men and woman being caught with several bottles of high end booze on their person and high school boys brazenly stealing large cases of beer in broad daylight with shocking frequency. The really big thefts were made by the truck load by people who knew how to game the system of deliveries and pay-offs.

  3. The Police Chief is there talking about a huge problem but this can’t be true. No Lauren at such a important evening. Oh wait she was on the phone..

    Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz, on the telephone, asked if it was just public property trespass increases but Kimerer said it was for both public and private property.

    All the businesses signing up for the blanket trespass letter, it’s getting real sad it’s come down to this..

    We all know crime is out of control police cars racing all over town maybe just maybe our council will let this sink in and do something. I can only hope right..

    1. I’m shocked, Berkski not there again…absent…and unaccounted for…again…!
      Let’s get into thinking folks…this person doesn’t care….
      And hopefully voter won’t either…except to use the DELETE button!
      But the cop issue deserves some thought, more than I have time for….

  4. For the record, I would like to know, how many, if any has counselor Berkowitz, or any others, that support her for that matter have taken into their homes. As after all they are just down on their luck folks.

    My guess is ZERO. Unless, if and until, you have been a victim of these folks, and or you have taken them into your home, you opinion counts for ZIP

    1. Well leroy if want to be fare. With how the laws are set up if you do invite anyone in your home to even stay a night.

      Then to legally get to them to leave your home you have to go to the court house and file a eviction notice for that person. You also need a good reason of why your evicting them. Obvious you could say well there a homeless person. The judge looking over the paper work might not like that response but who knows.

      If they don’t leave on there own. Even the police can’t make them leave. Unless if there causing harm or threatening to hurt you. Then they can be arrested of course or if there breaking any other laws.

      This can happen with anyone say you have a son or daughter that has a boy or girl friend and they move in. Then get in to a disagreement you cant legally tell them to leave with out a eviction notice.

  5. Interesting to see how some people still try to blame one two or three of the council members for the thoughts and actions of some in burien.

    I remember a few years back when some people blame the city council members that were for the annexation of white center accusing these members of being the problem and ow they got go in November. Don’t vote for them

    Then it was the teenager’s around the library using bad language and getting people’s way and oh my god there smoking pot ahh it’s end of the world. That some how turn into the homeless are now the problem.

    Now the council members that voted to try help get the homeless off the streets. Now some in burien call them out. Every time there is issue with crime or anything else. They blame these 3 council members. Don’t vote for them.

    Now with in this blame game it’s got the attention of the homeless and made some of them come to burien a little more. We now from time to time have people selling the real change news paper a homeless news paper out in front of the post office. Now if say no thank and walk a way no big deal. But to some in burien it’s oh my there is a few homeless people in burien.

    Then they want you to think that just these council members have complete control over the homeless actions and thoughts. That every gang member is these council members pocket. Right is that what supposed to believe.

    Oh yeah when a one of these council members uses maternity leave it’s she abusing her maternity leave. Right because she voted differently than you so she doesn’t deserve the same rights as anyone else .

    This is what some in burien want you to think. That ow the apartment buildings that have gangs and crime in them for years are just these 3 council members issues. That all the homeless people in burien are link to these 3 council members. Even before these 3 council member are in office and there was a gang crime and a homeless issue in burien. But then again all this would not have anything to do with som e of these same people not liking these council members from the start and trying to find ways to get people to vote them out. now would it.

    1. @OMGosh you do realize these issues existed prior to sanctuary city right? And where do you propose to “get rid” of the homless to? I guess anywhere is fine as long as it’s not in your community right? The point you all are missing is that crime is on the rise throughout King County not just in Burien. That is why it is important for our communities to come together to come up and work towards solutions…complaining gets you nowhere!

  6. As I read through this report, I see:
    1. Gang activity.
    2. Drug activity and use of drugs.

    State, county, and city policies that invite, encourage, and actively participate in
    the acceptance of illegal immigrants in our society, and which also encourage drug smuggling are, in my mind, the most likely reason for this reported increase in violence and drug usage.

    I recommend that the citizens of Washington adopt policies that uninvite, discourage, and also demand severe punishment of illeagal activity.

    How can anyone expect good results when governmental policies actively encourage the inclusion of people and activities that are likel, or even suspected, to result in increased crime?

  7. #1, why are we not able to compile stats the same way other locales do? It’s difficult to make comparisons w/out the same info.

    Instead of finger pointing, what can we do to solve the problem? The Council consists of elected officials, how do we hold them accountable for their actions? Why still no City Manager?

  8. Has there ever been an official count of the homeless population in Burien? I have no idea whether it’s 50 or 150 or 500 or 5,000. I know I see a lot of the same faces over and over in certain parts of Burien, but surely these folks are only a percentage of the total homeless community?
    The police chief was asked if Burien has seen an increase in the homeless population as some sweeps take place in Seattle. He indicated there has not been a real correlation, but when his officers on the street have encountered new faces and ask what brought them to Burien, the answer is they feel safer here and the police are nicer!

  9. Are the aggregate numbers available somewhere? It is hard to come to meaningful conclusions without the numbers they used to calculate the increases. A table of metrics by year would be appreciated.

  10. Another discussion item on the agenda last night was an “update on Economic Development,” presented by a lovely new employee of the city. I was impressed by her presentation (nothing like actually being in the room, Lauren, ohhh, I mean everyone!).
    At one point during the slide show accompanying her report, a picture of Dick’s Drive In
    came up as an example of a business that Burien would like to compete with other south Sound cities to come to Burien. Later, as the CM’s were asking questions or making comments, Lauren opined that she would never support Dick’s coming to Burien since that company did not support the $15.00 minimum wage in Seattle, was against the proposal that work places post schedules at least 2 weeks in advance (I think that’s the nanny state proposal), and that uses dead animals (that’s meat for you carnivores). Personal agenda?
    I can’t be certain of every word she said BECAUSE IT’s DIFFICULT TO HEAR HER OVER THE SPEAKER, but that’s the gist of it.

    1. Thanks for bringing our attention to this part of the meeting Diane! Oh my!?! Lauren B. speaks in ignorance. Here is a link about Dick’s employee policies. If only other businesses would have such consideration for their employees! :

      1. $13 a hour was voted in by Seattle (burien $6.50 to $12 a hr) so any business has this as a minimum wage in Seattle.

        Which ironically isn’t Lauren Berkowitz for a raise in the minimum wage for burien. Which is one the reason some don’t like her.

        Now for the other benefits and how business like this get around things. Looking at there scholarship program if they scheduled a employee for 19.9 hours a week oops that employee is out of luck. There insurance another 24 hours a week to qualify now if a employee gets under 24 hours even 23.9hrs. Then they have to pay out of pocket to keep there insurance. Ask some that have worked there on how the working condition are. Looking from the outside you can get a complete different picture of what’s really goes on.

        Then in the end do really need another unhealthy fast food place in burien.

        1. C O
          It is not a matter of “getting around things”. An employer has to define eligible employees. Offering a scholarship program to anyone working half time or more seems pretty generous to me. When an employer offers health insurance, he has to define for the insurance company who is eligible as a full time employee. 24 hours a week also seems pretty generous to me. I used 35 hours a week (averaged over a month) as a definition for my employees. I’d bet Dicks also averages over a month.
          Instead of shaving hours, it would be simpler to add part time workers to lower everyone’s hours.
          Although the insurance company doesn’t care about hours when they are accepting premiums, I had coverage denied for a full time employee when he slipped under the minimum, due to a covered illness. It sucked. Everyone needs to understand the significance of the hours worked requirement.
          BTW Because they seem to be a Seattle institution, I have tried Dick’s burgers off and on for decades and was never impressed. Once every few years is enough.

          1. Yes it may be nice to offer these programs. But I worked at placed that offered similar insurance programs. But when a the gm wanted to lower costs and cut hours we got stuck paying $85 out of pocket. Which on minium wage that’s a big a hit to your pay check. Then theirs managers that will change the schedule on your day off. Making you in trouble with the gm. Some stupid stuff some do to try get rid of a employee to.

    2. So what since she a vegan or vegetarian we should not vote her now ok everyone add this to your list of reasons.

      1. Capt., it’s a troubling stance, not just because it’s narrowly her own and doesn’t represent the broader constituency, but also because it’s narrowly her own, doesn’t represent the broader constituency, and would block an extremely popular local business from opening here and bringing its economic benefit right along with it. SMH

        1. The issue is not if food is good dicks drive in may be good. But if look around burien we have Smokey’s, Paul’s Burger joint,herfys,burger boiler,jack in the box, Burger King, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, just to name a few places with the same or similar menu and staff issue’s. I like burgers my self but I think we have enough options in burien plus there always making them yourself.

          Then ok so Lauren Berkowitz doesn’t like to eat meat and ask a question about the businesses​ practices of Dick’s drive in. From what she herd she doesn’t agree with them so that’s one vote no for they have 6 more.

          Also the corporate office of Dick’s drive in has not picked a location and doesn’t plan on one opening till late 2018. Lauren Berkowitz is out December of 2017 unless if she runs and gets elected no one knows if she is re running or not.

          Then is there any verification this what Lauren Berkowitz said in the meeting since this did come from blog poster Diane and has not been posted by the editor of the blog. In the article.

          1. I was making a late dinner and nursing a dental surgery I had done this past week while planning on watching the video stream of the meeting. Instead of finding a ride or taking the bus up there to sit in a room with a bunch of people that have the oddest times to coff and sneeze or children to make noise. Some of witch comes in on the video to. Then there is the colds and flu type stuff going around. Better off avoiding that.

      2. I love our Burien Police officers and can certainly see the need for a few more. They have been very polite and helpful over the past several year whenever called about neighborhood vandalism. I just wish we had a real police station that welcomed citizens with engaged knowledgeable staff.
        I would like to suggest a revamp of the phone system and reception area of the station house. In my experience, I am never made to feel welcome when arriving in person. One stands around while being ignored and then being looked at with out a greeting. People at the counter always make me feel like I have come in at the wrong time. I never feel like a knowledgeable person is there to help me. I should have come in the morning, or I should leave a phone message for a detective or the Chief. One can’t get a copy of paperwork of a case. I always feel unwelcome there. The phone system, which I understand is run on Skype is of poor quality sound and loops back again and again to the same long introduction and is very frustrating.
        This is all very discouraging when you are trying to communicate details on a current case. I have wondered how other are treated when showing up in person?

      3. Captain,
        I don’t know or care if LB is vegetarian.
        But her stance against Dick’s for that reason alone stinks of personal agenda.
        Her other 2 reasons are workers’ rights issues that people might agree or disagree with. That said, Burien is NOT
        Seattle (thankfully!), but I’ll bet that’s the city council she would really like to be on!
        Her and Sawant could cause havoc together. BTW, how can minimum wage in Burien be under $7.00/hour?

  11. At tonight’s Burien City council meeting , the Police chief gave the annual crime report. Fortunately there was one left for myself and I searched through it as the chief made his report.

    A wealth of data about crime in Burien. Of course there was a increase in crime for Burien, across the board in all types of crime.

    One thing that caught my attention and still gives me concern is shown on page 11 of the report. The City of Bothell has a population of 43,980 and Burien has a population of 50,000. The 2016 police budget for Bothell was $13,247,039 while the Burien police budget was $11,194,000.

    So a city with about 6,000 less people spends more than $2million ???? Does that make you wonder??? Where our council priorities are at??

    If Bothell is a crime ridden city, I do not know but —- $2 million more???


  12. Reading about Berkowitz always makes me cringe. Her agenda and ideas are just extremely bad for Burien – her absence is a blessing – when is the mayor going to put that damned speaker phone on mute? I can’t wait her term being over and hope many others that love Burien feel the same. I hope Darla Green will run again as she has been a champion on the real issues and she really loves Burien and wants it to make it a better place to live.

  13. I would like an answer to this question. I have been in Burien as a business owner for 37 years. We worked hard to buy our property. And build our business

    We have always donated part of our salary to the less fortunate, we have tried to be good humans, and citizens of the world and Burien.

    Now come these homeless folks, they steal every thing that is not nailed down,( and even then sometimes) They leave needles, go poo and pee on my property. Guess who cleans that up. And destroy our public property. Parks and library

    Are these women and children of domestic violence? I think not. Are they.

    drug an alcohol addicts, and people with mental issues, yep Who will never change? yep, if you read the stats on rehab for these folks its about 2%

    Do they care a rip about me, Nope, But somehow, some folks, seem to think I should welcome them with open arms, and let them destroy all I have worked for.
    I think some folks would sing quite a different tune if they were in our shoes.

    How do folks who take an opposite view to me answer this question? Should I just let them destroy 37 years of work? Or should I say enough is enough?. Lets change our attitude in Burien.

    1. I fully understand your concerns, about the only thing that has ever worked to deter those who could care less about you is jail time. It may be three hot’s and a cot but without drugs and alcohol it starts to get rough and realistic real fast paying for abusing society and the laws.

      1. Ahh QofA you must not know the prison system to well. There are lots of drugs available in prison. Just the price and quality change price go’s up quality go’s down. Then there is pruno a homemade prison wine .
        Then there’s also prescription drugs people share. Then there’s prison guards that let some prisoners get away with certain things.

        Yes they get 3 hot meals and a cot a TV free dental and medical care a roof over there head.

    2. Well leroy you don’t have to have open arms for all. Obviously call and report the criminals if your not already. Also you can set up cheap security cameras around your building. This way if someone does leave a #2 or urinates you can give the police the video. Hopefully they can track down the person give them a ticket or jail time/trespassed.

      Yes there are some homeless that won’t change but there a lot that will.

    3. Supporting a day use center will give them someplace else to go, rather than your business. But if you falsely believe it won’t help at all, and use that to condemn it, you still won’t see any difference. And you will never not know what works or not.
      Hint: it works fine with proper management in other areas that have them.

      1. So then Michael, you have no problem, with such a facility, moving next to you?
        Please supply your address to the city council. I am sure they will be happy to hear from you. Otherwise you suggestion is just so much BS. Unless if and until you are willing to step up

        1. So easy to dump this on us poor business owners, I suspect Michael if I suggested we put that next to your property, you would flip out.

        2. Get a clue: They are closer than “next door” to you right now according to your own experiences.

          And you are the ones that complain the loudest about it. It’s already been “dumped” on you by default because some of you refuse to support actual ways to address it. You have lots of cynicism and zero willingness to productively address it.

  14. hello,
    question for someone…we live by the hi-line school board 157th, there is a person sleeping in the bushes next to our home that is the school property (im assuming). its too close to home and its scary for me because i walk home alot by myself. yes i am a female and i dont normally get to worry but i do now, please advise me what to do. i really dont want someone to change my routine on how i should live when i dont bother anyone.

    1. Sounds like someone is trespassing call the non-emergency police number 206-296-3311. Tell them about it next time you see the person. Most likely there not dangerous but you never know.

      Or there some numbers you can call here to report the issue to

  15. Im a burien supporter and I’ve been here for 8 years and never have to worry about my safety even after all the crazy stuff thats been happening. although this last couple of days I’ve been worry due to all the homeless. great for them that they live the way they want but its a bit scary for me because they are invading my private space by asking me for money, ciggi, food, and what ever i could spare. I dont care how they live but when I say I cant afford to give them anything, I fear for my safety. Please help me what to do. I dont want to be a prisoner to my own space. help.

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