City of Bellingham police chief hiring process — success or flop?

April 14, 2022
Riveters Collective Justice System Committee

A local civic action group is hoping Bellingham’s next police chief will work to strengthen community cohesion and be transparent and accountable to the public.

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Hope isn’t a strategy: Bellingham again seeks a new police chief

February 2, 2022
Mike Sato

The City of Bellingham has renewed its search for a new police chief, and aims to choose from a short list of finalists by this summer.

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Election 2021: City, county candidates vary on police reform needs, approaches

October 7, 2021
Stella Harvey

Urgency around police reform and public safety has not brought people to the streets this year, but voters in Bellingham and Whatcom County have the opportunity to weigh in on what approach their local officials should take when it comes to local policing and public safety.

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Police, mental health workers face challenge, confusion with new use-of-force law

August 20, 2021
Matt Benoit

House Bill 1310 established new rules about use of force by police when it took effect in Washington last month, and law enforcement and social service agencies continue to grapple with confusion related to challenges to the new law.

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Community Voices / New police laws will make our communities safer

August 3, 2021
Sen. Liz Lovelett, Rep. Debra Lekanoff and Rep. Alex Ramel

In response to “a clear call” for reforms in criminal justice and police accountability, Washington’s state legislature responded with several new laws. Now, 40th District legislators say they believe there has been some misinterpretation of the new laws, and hope that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies will continue to work to implement the new laws in good faith.

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People’s choice: renter protections, police tech, workers’ rights initiatives make November ballot

July 26, 2021
Ella Banken

After a major volunteer-led effort, four initiatives presented by People First Bellingham received enough verified signatures to be on November’s ballot, even as some city council members expressed concern potential legal challenges the initiatives may present.

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Search for new police chief surfaces questions about transparency and the public’s role

June 23, 2021
Stella Harvey

As the City of Bellingham, city council and the newly formed Racial Equity Commission seek to address systemic racism in and out of policing, some community members looking to engage in the selection process for a new police chief in good faith have raised questions about the city’s commitment to transparency.

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2020

Law and order, alternatives to jail: Bellingham compiles a wide-ranging priorities wish list for new police chief

May 13, 2021
Stella Harvey

As Bellingham’s search for a new police chief moves forward, the community has weighed in on what priorities should be under new leadership: some say law and order should top the list, others say it’s time to reimagine policing.

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photo: Mike Sato © 2020

Bellingham police budget tweaked for near future; equity advocates continue push for more

December 18, 2020
Stella Harvey

In Bellingham, some local racial justice advocacy groups transitioned their demands from over the summer to budget season, looking for tangible proof that their representatives heard their calls for change over the last six months.

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photo: Mike Sato © 2020

‘Defund the police’ movement drives Whatcom racial justice discussions

August 14, 2020
Alex Meacham

Local activists are advocating for a 50% reduction in the Bellingham Police Department budget, even as BPD says it could use more resources for meeting the calls it routinely answers now — including a large number related to behavioral health and social welfare. While reformers would like to see change soon, community-wide conversations are just beginning, and the eventual direction and pace of change are as yet unknown.

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New parking rules on as Bellingham struggles with enforcement

April 28, 2022
Matt Benoit

New parking rules—and fees—take effect May 1, but enforcement resources are low.

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Voting for a judge: does it matter?

April 21, 2022
Matt Benoit

A Whatcom District Court judgeship will be contested in the primary for the first time in 24 years—prompting the question of why some judges are elected.

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Leaning into ‘treatment over punishment’: jail diversion programs show potential

April 8, 2022
Matt Benoit

Amid calls to reform policing and criminal justice — and an aging, crowded jail — Whatcom officials, residents and law officers are looking to diversion programs for detainees with serious mental health or substance abuse issues.

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Recent robberies prompt renewed look at security for cannabis retailers

February 11, 2022
Matt Benoit

An uptick in brazen robberies and burglaries of regional cannabis retailers since November has prompted local dispensaries to reinforce security, while the cash-only operations — legal here for eight years — remain stifled by banking regulations related to marijuana’s federal illegality.

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Skagit sheriff-social-worker partnership is a game-changer in mental health calls

February 4, 2022
Lauren Gallup

A different approach to how first responders in Skagit County address mental health crises is changing the outcome of behavioral health emergencies and helping people stay out of the hospital or jail.

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Blockbuster year for power outages pushes need to plan

February 2, 2022
Kenneth Duncan

Electrical power was out due to severe weather almost three times more hours in 2021 than in 2020 for customers of one of the state’s largest utilities, prompting some customers to look at fallback plans — and for insights as to how outages are managed.

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