Please see corrections at the bottom of the article.
More Bad News about Crime in Burien.
Amid a shortage of officers and increasing crime, Chief Boe is stepping down, effective year-end 2022.
At a non-city event last Wednesday evening (co-sponsored by the new Burien Business Association and the Latino Civic Alliance), it was revealed that Police Chief Ted Boe is taking a position with the King County Sheriff’s office as Patrol Operations Chief, effective January 2023.
Chief Boe is currently out of the state for training, apparently until the year’s end — meaning that Boe is no longer serving in Burien. The city website has not announced his resignation or departure to Burien’s citizens, effectively demonstrating the ongoing communication problems between the city government, its residents, and businesses.
The meeting was hosted at the Latino Civic Alliance offices. It was a “meet and greet” with new City Manager Adolfo Bailon and the business community. Two other Burien council members were also present. Much of the meeting was conducted in Spanish as small business owners from our Hispanic community shared their frustration with rising crime and its impact on their businesses. (In an ironic twist, three businesses close by were broken into that evening.)
Based on recent information from City Council meetings, Burien is short six police, and four have been put on administrative leave due to the recent shooting, which limits them to desk duty. With Chief Boe now gone from our city, that adds up to Burien being SHORT 11 officers. Even before the recent shooting events, Burien was the King County city with the lowest number of officers per thousand residents; in other words, the LEAST protected! Crime and gang activity are rampant in Burien right now, and Burien businesses want answers. How many officers does Burien actually have? How many are available to respond to emergencies in the city — day, night, and weekends?
At the meeting, the BBA brought in a security company to talk about what can be done to secure the property and persons of their business, staff, and customers. During this discussion, the security company and city manager acknowledged that the police officers’ hands were tied. The legislative and court-mandated restrictions make it impossible for them to enforce the law, nor are they able to recruit more officers to our city; Most of the officers are frustrated! Wednesday evening, the business leaders at the gathering were resolute in their affirmation of the officers, believing they are doing the best they can, given the restraints placed upon them.
According to the security experts, a private security company has more freedom to restrain criminals and enforce the law than the police do. As a result, the Burien Business Association is in negotiations with a security company to patrol downtown Burien. The estimated cost of this service will be about $500 per company, which businesses would have to pay on top of current taxes already paid to the city for law enforcement.
But is this a REAL answer? This bandaid solution does not address Burien’s growing systemic gap between law enforcement and the crime rate. Is the city incapable of solving this crisis? Will this continue to spread into neighborhoods? Will all Burien residents soon be paying for a security company on top of their taxes?
One of the items Burien and this council score lowest in (by public opinion)- is straightforward, honest, transparent, and immediately responsive communications.
By state law, the number one job of this city is public safety. At the Gem of the Sound, we request that the city communicate immediately about the following items:
- What is happening with the Burien police? Please include current numbers, change of guard with the Burien Police Chief, and how it intends to protect its residents and businesses with such a lean force.
- That Burien City Mayor immediately signs the letter joining the other Southwest King County cities regarding the crime issues in this part of the county.
- Burien and King County police statement explaining who will pay for the private security firms to patrol this city due to the lack of police? The council? The city manager?
Quite frankly, the newly drafted Burien Strategic Plan has completely “missed the boat” on what residents and businesses want most, which is to be able to live, work, socialize and shop safely in this city, something that is not happening right now.
Since our county’s area has experienced the most economical, environmental, educational, and social injustices and has the severest population health issues and poorest/lowest police protection, Burien businesses and residents want IMMEDIATE relief!
An earlier version of this article incorrectly reported that the Burien Police Department is down 11 officers. Since publishing, City Manager Adolfo Bailon sent a letter to council members stating the following in regards to the Burien Police Department staff shortages:
“Burien is, in fact, short 6.8 deputies. Burien budgets for a total of 44.8 officers, but currently has a police roster of 38. KCSO is currently understaffed and has distributed equally staff shortages amongst all its contract cities. Staff shortages are being addressed by KCSO, but we do not know when the six vacancies in Burien will be filled.”
Also, please note that we incorrectly reported that there were four officers on Administrative leave when in fact, it’s two, and Bailon states that those two shifts were covered by other KCSO deputies.
The Gem appreciates the update from Bailon.