By Jack Mayne

More and more Burien residents are feeling less and less safe from the onslaught of crime in the community that is policed by a force drawn from and contracted with the King County Sheriff’s Office, an arrangement that has continued since the city officially incorporated on Feb. 28, 1993.

The latest police report was slated to be delivered to the Burien City Council at its regular meeting tonight (Monday, April 1) and the 2018 report by new Police Chief Tel Boe said there were 41 crimes per 1,000 residents, utilizing a measurement that is a standard from the FBI in such police reports in King County.

‘Part 1 crimes’
The number is calculated in numbers per thousand for so-called Part 1 crimes, which includes attempts to kill, suicides, accidental deaths, justifiable homicide, and traffic fatalities. Also included as Part 1 crimes are forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny‐theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson.

The Burien number has trended downward in the past five years, the report said. The number of crimes per 1,000 residents was 56 in 2014, reached it recent high in 2016 at 57 and was listed at 41 per 1,000 residents in 2018.

Homicides (murder to the uninitiated) reached a decade high of six last year, compared with none in 2015 and four in 2017.

Crimes of force were up and down over the past few years, but none were way out of the usual number. Rapes in the past five years reached a high of 49 in 2016 but were at 30 rapes in 2018. Aggravated assault was at a low of 84 in 2015 but at 115 aggravated assaults in both 2017 and 2018.

Robbery was at a high of 86 in 2014 but has stayed in the 70 range in the past four years, at 74 such crimes in 2018.

Burglary, larceny down
Other non violent crimes against property, which include arson and burglary — breaking and entering — were, said the Boe report, “nearly 50 percent reduction over four years.”

Larceny is down from 1,340 in 2014 to 997 last year. Larceny is defined as “unlawful taking, carrying, leading, or riding away of property of any value amount,” and include such things as thefts of bicycles, motor vehicle parts and accessories, shoplifting, pocket‐picking, or the stealing of any property or article that is not taken by force and violence or by fraud.”

Chief Boe has reported that vehicle theft is about the same over the past few years. There were 546 such thefts in 2015 and now it is up to 580 last year.

Thefts from vehicles are down a bit from past years. There were 685 such thefts in 2016 but 502 last year. Attempts were also down from 124 in 2014 to 86 attempts last year.

The number of calls to Burien Police are pretty steady, with a high of 21,275 in 2016 to a high of 21,275 and down to 20,058 in 2018.

Costs of Police Services
Since Burien contracts with the King County Sheriff’s Office for police services, Boe says “among other benefits, contracting for services from a larger law enforcement agency allows for cost savings through “economies of scale.” The contracting includes mutual aid with the Sheriff’s office and coverage if officers are busy elsewhere. Cost sharing keep costs to city taxpayers down, Boe wrote in his annual report.

Statement from Police Chief
When reached for comment, Chief Boe offered this statement to The B-Town Blog:

“First, the data is the same data that is produced, analyzed and distributed to all partner cities with the King County Sheriff’s Office. The data has been consistently collected over time in order to add a measure of comparability. The data is divided into Part 1 and Part 2 crimes, categorizations that are also consistent in crime reporting.

“Burien Police Department is focused on fighting crime, building relationships and supporting each other. We defined these objectives after gathering input from the community on what they wanted from their police department and police chief. Our officers are committed to serving the community at a consistently high level.

“Our mission, and that of the King County Sheriff’s Office, is to reduce crime and the fear of crime. The numbers show crime in Burien is trending downward in most areas. However the fear of crime in Burien remains present and real. Enforcing laws and fighting crime is only a small part of promoting public safety. I believe that is at the heart of the perception issue here. I think we need to take a broader look at what public safety means to people in Burien, how we can effectively reduce their fear of crime, then work collaboratively to devote the proper resources to making it happen. “

Download the full annual Burien Police Service Highlights & Data Report for 2018 here (PDF file).

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