By Bill Elfo
Thank you, Whatcom County, for your continued support of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office during 2014. Despite severe budget limitations, we leveraged opportunities and partnerships to maintain the Birch Bay Neighborhood Deputy program and achieved continuing success in reducing gang violence.
Deputy Zac Reimer did an outstanding job as our neighborhood deputy; however, Zac received a tremendous opportunity to live closer to family in the San Juan islands. While he is leaving the office, we wish him well and will soon select and introduce a new neighborhood deputy.
The sheriff’s office modernized its information management systems to better fight crime and allocate resources. Deputies now have more timely data to prioritize patrols and enforcement and solve crimes.
Due to budget restrictions, the sheriff’s office has operated with three unfilled deputy sheriff positions for over two years. The county council and county executive allocated funding to fill two of these positions in 2015 and agreed to work to fill the third position as soon as possible.
Our gang and drug task force is instrumental in reducing gang violence and disrupting sophisticated criminal organizations. Reductions in federal and state funding jeopardized this highly effective program. The council and executive approved the funding needed to continue the task force’s focus on gangs, violent habitual offenders and criminal enterprises.
In 2015, we will continue to enhance community safety and maintain the quality of life that exists in Birch Bay and surrounding areas.
A safe and adequate jail being necessary to ensure effective justice, the Whatcom County Executive’s Office is shepherding the planning, permitting and financing for the replacement jail in Ferndale. The proposed new jail will enhance safety, efficiencies and allow the delivery of mental health services and programs designed to reduce recidivism.
On behalf of the members of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, have a safe, healthy and happy New Year.