Roughly 80 members of the Birch Bay and Blaine communities filled a conference room at the Sand Castle Resort last Wednesday to hear how they can help combat the gang issue in Birch Bay.
Whatcom County Sheriff’s deputy Keith Linderman gave an hour-long presentation on Wednesday, April 6, about the gang presence in Whatcom County and briefly touched on the gangs present in Birch Bay and Blaine.
Linderman spent eight years in the Mount Vernon police department as a school outreach officer and has about 300 hours of gang training under his belt.
Linderman said a gang is defined as a group of people who unite under a common name and color, claim a neighborhood, and regularly participate in illegal activity.
He was quick to note gangs are not based on ethnicity, but on their specific subculture.
Linderman explained Birch Bay and Blaine have regularly had problems with the Midknight Sureno Locos, a branch of the larger southern California gang known as the Surenos, and the West Side Piru, which are associated with the Bloods, a gang founded in Los Angeles.
He said about 25 suspected West Side Piru members live in Birch Bay, though he did not offer any more specifics.
The most common question from audience members was what they could do about the gang issue. County sheriff Bill Elfo said knowing your children’s friends, being aware of what’s going on in the neighborhood, and reporting graffiti to 360/676-6911 are the best solutions.
Suspected gang members can only be arrested if they are doing something illegal, he said.
Linderman said most gang violence is focused on other gang members, and that gangs are more likely to steal from the average person rather than hurt them. However, he explained Birch Bay is as safe a place as any to live in the county.
“Right now [Birch Bay] is pretty gosh darn good,” Linderman said.
To report graffiti and other non-emergencies to the county sheriff’s office, call 360/676-6911.