On behalf of all members of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, merry Christmas and happy new year. It has been an honor to serve the communities of Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer and Point Roberts. We look forward to continuing to do so in 2020.
The sheriff’s office will continue to emphasize the importance of the neighborhood and resident deputy programs with deputy Todd Damon continuing to serve in the greater Birch Bay area and deputy Neil Ingermann joining deputy James Allen as a Point Roberts resident deputy. I’m confident that these deputies will provide a high level of service in their respective assignments.
Our mental health deputy program is fully operational and has been highly effective in getting help for those in a behavioral health crisis and providing diversion from arrest and jail to treatment and recovery. Ground-breaking has occurred for a new Crisis Stabilization Center that will be instrumental in facilitating diversion. Deputy Jerilyn Klix will join deputy Jamie Collins in this assignment. A social worker is available to assist deputies and often accompanies them on calls.
The Coast Guard’s ability to assist us in transporting prisoners from Point Roberts was reduced. However, they helped us receive a Department of Homeland Security grant that will pay for an ocean-going closed-compartment boat to service the Point and other coastal areas. We are also working with the fire districts to make the vessel available for rescue and medical evacuations. We anticipate that the boat will be headquartered in Blaine.
Our Division of Emergency Management continues to plan and conduct exercises to ensure that our community agencies are prepared to address natural and manmade disasters. These have included joint exercises with our Canadian partners. Plans are underway to improve radio communications and interoperability with other public safety agencies.