BurienCityHallLensFlare16_thumbBy Jack Mayne A move to add two officers to the Burien Police Department at an estimated cost of $415,000 was debated for over an hour at Monday night’s Burien City Council meeting, drawing heavy fire from Councilmembers Lauren Berkowitz and Nancy Tosta before being delayed to the next meeting for further debate and decision. The Council on Monday (Aug. 1) approved changes in a program to provide an afterschool basketball and recreation program and also okayed upgrading a city staffer to a teen program assistant, despite some objections from two members over lack of an overarching set of goals. Adding police officers City Manager Kamuron Gurol and Burien Police Chief Scott Kimerer are asking the Council permission to hire a patrol officer and a sergeant for work with the new downtown “emphasis patrol.” “The addition of these officers will address community desire for an increased police presence and crime prevention,” the staff request said, and the reason for doing this at mid-year was because of “the lengthy hiring and training process, which is an average of six months.” Chief Kimerer said his department had a “monumental increase” of almost 20,000 calls for service last year, for his 27-member patrol force. He said the department has applied for a grant to issue where people “in chaos” need to be directed to facilities that can assist them, or in some cases police action is required. Most of the officers doing such work have been redirected back to general patrol activities because of the increased number of public calls for service. There is now a new officer working on the “emphasis patrol” downtown, a younger “very energetic” one with roots in the Burien community and who speaks fluent Spanish. He also “has ideas” of how to come up with ways to deal with the homeless issue, the mentally disturbed issue, addiction issues, and is considered an officer who is going to be a “tremendous asset to us.” TostaOpposed to adding police Councilmember Nancy Tosta said she was “totally on board with the need to think about public safety,” but that adding police personnel may not be the best way and perhaps there was a “more strategic way.” She was joined later by the still personally-absent Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz. Kimerer’s proposal, she said, was only one way and “it is really quite expensive” in light of the likelihood that the city’s income may not be growing at the same rate as expenses. “I am not for adding more police officers,” Tosta said. “I don’t think we have that funding,” noting that adding two officers would cost “half a million dollars,” Tosta said, suggesting other ideas be considered to confront aberrant behavior. She added that a police report from Kimerer says the crime rate is down to 2011 levels. “There is a broader array of things we should be considering than just hire two more police officers,” Tosta said. Kimerer said the areas Tosta was talking about “would not fall under the police.” He noted that violent crimes are down, as Tosta suggested, but non-violent crimes like car prowls and shoplifting are up. As usual by telephone, Councilmember Lauren Berkowitz said she was seeking non-police solutions to the city’s crime issues with human problems. “To have (more police) as the only solution, seems very shortsighted,” Berkowitz said. “I am strongly not in favor of that solution.” Councilmember Debi Wagner, also by telephone, noted the surplus was “not a sustainable surplus” and wondered if there was a “happy median,” perhaps by just hiring one officer. She suggested more police would be of benefit but sustainable finances would have to be considered. “I don’t want a to have a huge increase in taxes in 2017 to sustain more police,” she said, or have to cut the number of police officers to meet budget requirements. Need more police Councilmember Steve Armstrong said “we need more police on the street,” indicating his support for Kimerer’s request. In the city survey, Armstrong noted 96 percent of people were concerned about public safety which “starts with police, preventative policing, it starts with active policing,” and he said the additional two officers “would be another way to add skills to reduce crime.” Tosta said he was incorrect, noting the public survey showed that only 26 percent wanted more police and enforcement, others wanted more general additions to public safety. She would rather see the estimate annual $415,000 cost of adding officers be put into other types of services and opportunities for youth and residents than she would for adding cops. Tosta said the city already spends 52 percent of the annual budget on policing but the city needs a community center, along with other ways to engage youth. “I think there are other ways to think about public safety,” Tosta said. Mayor Lucy Krakowiak said she did support the additional officers in light of the community survey and that the Council was developing ideas to confront the non-criminal aspects of problems. Money for police available Gurol said that no one on the city staff or police department “believes that more cops just responding to calls for service is the solution.” “We need a broad-based approach and I would applaud the Council for recognizing and providing the resources for human services elements,” and said he hoped for Council consideration for another proposal, to add a teen basketball program to involve youth at Highline High School. Police, he said, haven’t the staff to do more than just respond to the increased number of calls for help and assistance, adding that Kimerer had actually asked for four officers but staff was asking for two because that was what would be financially attainable. Finance Director Kim Krause said the money is available to hire the requested officers by Sept. 1. The cost for the two officers the rest of this year is approximately $133,000 and there are sufficient funds available in the police budget to cover the cost. Councilmember Austin Bell asked if more police would reduce the non-violent crimes and Kimerer said officers would potentially do that but not directly. More police would provide more ways to figure out where stolen property is disposed or where certain crimes generally take place. New basketball program With some criticism that there was no overarching strategy from Councilmembers Tosta and Berkowitz, the Council unanimously approved upgrading a position within the Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department for an after school recreation program at Highline High School. Steve Roemer, parks and recreation director, had said at a Council study session that he would propose to duplicate a Sylvester after school basketball program and expand it to high school aged teens at Highline High. Very important, he said, is the idea of “an enhanced intercity teen basketball program,” which was outlined at an earlier Council study session by Patricia Meijia, Burien teen program assistant. Roemer’s request for early action was to “continue development and operation of programs for youth and teens, including the start of the after school program at Highline High School and the intercity teen basketball program.” Roemer told the Council his budget can absorb the $16,800 cost for the four months the program would operate this year and $51,500 next year. without more money from the Council. The proposal also asks for an upgrade in the recreation leader to a “teen programmer” job to “add developing new recreation programs for youth and teens” and increase the pay for the position that he said Meijia would be promoted to fill. Roemer told the Council it would cost $4,400 for the rest to this year and $13,100 annual projected costs beginning in 2017 but with no need of increased budget funds. Councilmember Berkowitz said she generally approved of the move but wanted to know why the Council is asked to approve it without any basic facts other than Roemer’s word it was a good program. Is this too much additional work for Meijia?, asked Councilmember Wagner to which Roemer said, “Trish (Meijia) is ready to get into this challenge…well within Trish’s capacity … this is a very important thing to her to move forward.” Tosta and Berkowitz both said they liked the direction of the programs but felt there should be an overall strategy developed and shared with Council.]]>

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

16 replies on “Objectors stall request to add 2 Burien cops; Council okays new teen program”

  1. Where do I start ? As usual the liberal side of the council holds up crime prevention and touts “hugs not handcuffs” ideology. Wagner has a justifiable reason to call in, but Bezerkoitz just keeps disrespecting her sworn duties over and over. Got time to call in, you got time to show up so cut the cord, literally. If you can’t go a few hours without being an obsessed helicopter mom, how do you even sleep or shower without guilt.

  2. Crime levels down to 2011 levels doesn’t make me feel very safe- that’s the year people broke into my house! I think having more officers sounds like a great idea. More officers means shorter response times, which would maybe make criminals think twice before they act. I understand that balancing the budget isn’t an easy thing, but to dismiss the idea immediately just doesn’t feel like a smart choice.

  3. I do not believe that the council members who oppose the hiring of additional police officers have their hand on the pulse of the community. Every where I go in Burien, I hear my friends and neighbors discussing the need for more police and the need for the officers to answer calls in a more timely fashion. Procuring the services that we need will cost money and certainly most citizens understand that. My household will readily support our police force and the expanding of all of our public services. We made a large investment in our home when we moved here from another state and we are willing to do what it takes to protect that home. I would like to thank City Manager Gurol and Chief Kimerer for their proposal to increase the number of our officers. I urge the Burien City Council to support this proposal.

  4. It must be nice to listen be in la-la land. Obviously, the Bcc does not spend time walking the streets of Burien. Join me any morning while I “stroll” through the city with people peeing / pooping in doorways / walls – like the post office. How naive are you people.?
    Thank goodness that BOA cleared out a gathering spot, that was an absolute pit!
    BCC needs to spend a lot more time on the ground rather than trying to present a feel good attitude for a major problem in the city.
    Seriously, how many council members actually walk the city? My guess is very few, so your comments carry no weight.
    We have a problem, a major problem, that needs to be addressed. The BBC needs to step up, take care of the problems, take responsibility and clean up the city.
    As a local business, I pay taxes and get very little in return.
    Please, clean up this city. Right now, you have failed the citizens, businesses, and potential visitors.
    We deserve better from you.
    Scott salzer

  5. “I think there are other ways to think about public safety,” Tosta said.”
    Do tell us about those other ways.

    1. Her and Bezerkoitz would come across a scumbag with a crowbar busting a car window and say “You obviously have anger management issues and your life has been hard since you became a junkie, but let’s talk and find a way to get you free handouts on the tax payers dime” Incarceration and punishment are so outdated and cruel.

    2. I support more officers. For those of the BCC that are looking for ‘other ways’, they are not realizing that more officers is the better way. Sure there are other ways to everything and then there are ways that have a direct and immediate impact.

    3. @Willy, it seems like CM Tosta did share examples of other ways, because Chief Kimerer is quoted as saying those approaches would not fall under the purview of the police. Looks like CM Tosta’s specifics didn’t make it into the article, which is a different thing from her not providing any.

  6. So, wait a minute… LB has now made it a routine to “call-in” her council member duties?
    When did THIS fiasco start?
    Does she have a sanctioned reason, or did she just once day announce this was the new plan and nobody challenged it?
    If she can do that, what’s next, the entire council convening via teleconference? Isn’t being a council member mean you *WANT* to go to meetings and interact with the PUBLIC? Whats the point of council chambers if no one shows up? Or am I missing something? Why sit on the council if you don’t want to PHYSICALLY SIT ON THE COUNCIL?
    As a citizen of the City of Burien, I’d like to have a clear understanding why a council member is, from what I’m gathering from above, executing her sworn duties without being physically present.
    If we’re good with someone just calling it in, why not just have people that live out of the state serve on the council?
    What kind of joke is this?

    1. She hatched out a mini minion to follow in her glorious footsteps. Problem is she can’t seem to differentiate between milking the baby or milking her council obligations.

  7. The article says property crimes are up but would not be affected much by the addition of two new officers. Major crimes are down. None of the officials quoted state a real need for more officers except for a “..community desire for an increased police presence…”
    If we had the two more officers, we would still have the …community desire…” because fear sells.
    I’ve been working with at risk late teens. They are good kids. However, many lack the basic skills most of us learned in typical homes. They lack decent food and shelter. They don’t know how to communicate as an adult. They have never learned work skills or habits. They didn’t fit into the usual school system and they will not fit into society without significant help and guidance. This is where we can prevent crime rather than lock them up after the fact.
    I’m glad we have at least a couple council members who can figure this out rather than pander to paranoia.

  8. “Joined by the still personally absent Councilmember…”
    How, by some kind of shape shifting?
    Nancy Tosta says there ” are other ways about thinking about public safety” .
    I am sure there are. This statement , however, is an unconvincing generalization. The month before the next meeting should give you time to create a solid and convincing list.
    I look forward to seeing and reviewing it. Tom

  9. How does the cost of two officers reach $415,000? are cops getting paid like US Senators? I doubt that.
    Either someone is exaggerating, or the benefits package for employees is way out of whack.

    1. While I support the addition of 2 more cops Chief Kimerer is being a bit dishonest about the costs. He is selling it as if two brand new folks would have to be hired and trained, which would be quite expensive. That is not correct. One of the benefits of being a KCSO contract city is that the cops, cars, unis, etc, are already available. If the city approved the two new positons KCSO would only have interview applicants from the existing pool of Deputies. The starting salary for a Sgt is about 95000 minimum and Deputy 60-70k at a minimum. Burien already had spare marked Burien cars so that would not be an additional expense. In reality, the cost would be about half what Kimerer indicated. He is playing politics to get more cash. Like any business deal, he is coming in with a high offer so when the dust settles they city will fork out what he secretly wanted in the first place….

      1. We thought Eric’s question about the cost quoted by Kimerer was a good one so we asked the city to check with the Sheriff’s office about the costs. This is there response:
        “”Thank you passing us this question. It’s a commonly asked question, and seems to come up because of the way we simply display the cost per officer in our cost list. The cost per officer is often displayed in terms of “fully-loaded” cost, which includes not only an officer’s salary & benefits (which in total is $132k for 2016), but also myriad other services and pieces of essential equipment. Examples of equipment included are vehicle, uniform, taser, weapon, laptop, and cell phone. The “other services included” are those essential support roles performed by other Sheriff’s Office personnel, such as police records, legal, internal investigations, public disclosure, crime analysis, accounting, evidence management, police data, and the range. These are all units and functions that provide direct services supporting every Burien officer, so a cost is also included in the “per officer” charge. The cost per officer also includes roughly $7k in overtime, which is refunded to the city if it’s not used.
        “When Burien adds an officer to the Burien Police Department, it can select an experienced officer from another position elsewhere at the Sheriff’s Office, or from another partner city. This essentially creates a vacancy somewhere. To fill that vacancy, KCSO then needs to hire, train, and equip a new officer, a process that typically takes 9-10 months. Burien participates in this cost, because the cost is originally created from the officer addition.”

  10. Please consider more policemen. They should be given high priority. Burien’s residents need this protection. Safety is becoming more of a concern as our population increases.

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