Lynnwood veteran on uptick in crime: I fear for my safety

LYNNWOOD -- War veteran Douglas Kerley doesn't scare easily, but he freely admits he now fears for his safety and the safety of his family in his hometown.

Kerley is upset because his son was nearly robbed at gunpoint in Lynnwood back in October. Last week, his daughter was assaulted at knife point last week, although that happened in Seattle.

And these episodes of violence appear to be up, Kerley says, as less and less police appear to be on the streets.

"They've got to re-prioritize public safety and they're not,” Lynnwood resident Douglas Kerley said.

The  Lynnwood Police Department is currently down 11 officers from 2009 staffing levels.  Meanwhile, police say calls for service are up 10 percent from last year, aggravated assaults up 11 percent and burglaries up 9 percent.

The good news is robberies are down 23 percent and the department says response times improved over last year.

Lynnwood Police Commander Jim Nelson offered an explanation.

"We are down officers as are a lot of agencies in the area,” Nelson said.

Commander Nelson say the department is doing the best it can, and admits budget cuts caused by the recession are a factor in how well they protect and serve.

"We're responsive," Commander Nelson said. "I think we're as responsive as any agency. Having additional officers would obviously be excellent. The crime rate is trending up regionally, it's trending up in Lynnwood.”

Luckily, there could be some good news on the way. The Lynnwood City Council passed a new budget  Monday and it includes money for two new police officers.

"The priority of a government, number one needs to be public safety and public safety is directly related to the number of patrolmen on the street,” Kerley said.