June 26, 2017

Archives for May 2011

Sheriff’s Unit targets the “Worst of the Worst”

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Interdiction Team (CIT) is a patrol-based unit that actively investigates the worst offenders in Whatcom County. Most of these suspects are repeat offenders with lengthy criminal histories involving drugs, violence, weapons and gangs. The goal of the Criminal Interdiction Team is to “interdict” or stop repeated criminal activity in Whatcom County. The team consists of several uniformed deputies and a narcotics canine unit who work together to locate, investigate and stop career criminals.

Formed in 2004, CIT’S initial mission was to respond and investigate clandestine methamphetamine laboratories in Whatcom County. During 2004-2005, CIT assisted with the investigation of over 60 meth labs. In addition, they also assisted the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force with the investigation and arrest of suspects involved in the distribution of methamphetamine and other narcotics as well as conducting drug “knock and talks” on suspected drug houses within Whatcom County. As drug labs began to dissipate in Whatcom County, the mission of CIT began to change.

Currently CIT seeks out offenders whose repeated criminal activities make them some of the worst offenders in the County. The crimes committed by these people range from property crimes such as burglary and theft, up to violent offenses such as felony, assault and murder. In addition, CIT works closely with the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force and other Federal agencies in regards to many of the narcotics distributors based in the area. Many of these “drug dealers” are also involved in property crimes and more violent offenses. Working cooperatively with these other agencies, as well as the Sheriff’s Office Crime Analysis Unit and Washington State Department of Corrections, CIT is able to “target” these offenders, often catching them in the act of their crimes. Over the course of the last 12 months, CIT has been responsible for 176 Felony arrests and 366 Misdemeanor arrests. They have seized over 10 pounds of methamphetamine, over 50 kilos of cocaine, one half pound of heroin and over $64,000 in suspected drug currency. They have also removed 21 weapons from the hands of criminals. Through their hard work and knowledge of Whatcom County’s criminals, the Criminal Interdiction Team has made a profound impact in making our County safer and taking these “worst” offenders off of the street.

Two Arrested for Methamphetamine Distribution

On May 18, 2011, the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force completed an eleven month investigation of the sale of narcotics from a private residence located in the 300 block of Kline Road, in Whatcom County. During the course of the investigation, an agent of the Task Force purchased methamphetamine from the residence on multiple occasions.

On Wednesday, May 18th the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force, assisted by members of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, Skagit County Interlocal Drug Enforcement Unit and the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Investigation and Customs Enforcement (ICE), served a search warrant on the residence. The owner of the residence and her boyfriend were arrested on narcotic charges and booked into the Whatcom County Jail. Approximately 2 ounces of methamphetamine was seized during the warrant service, as well as marijuana and approximately $7,000 in US Currency. The individuals arrested are identified as followed with their listed charges:

Rebecca J. Alex (age 50)
387 Kline Road
Bellingham, WA

Arrested for the investigation of 8 counts of Delivery of Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver, Possession of Marijuana and Maintaining a Vehicle/Premises for Drug Trafficking.

Kenneth J. Talman (age 50)
387 Kline Road
Bellingham, WA

Arrested for the investigation of Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Deliver, Possession of Marijuana and Manufacture/Delivery of Methamphetamine.

Sheriff Elfo said: “Methamphetamine is an extremely dangerous drug with a strong nexus to both violent and property crime. We have seen the dynamics of methamphetamine distribution change over the past few years from local clandestine laboratories to a situation in with most of the drug is brought into our community through organized drug trafficking organizations.”

And

“Local law enforcement agencies have teamed up to attack neighborhood drug-dealing and the organizations that import and distribute dangerous narcotics in our community.”

The Northwest Regional Drug Task Force is a joint consortium of law enforcement agencies from Whatcom County including the Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, the Bellingham Police Department, the Washington State Patrol and the United States Department of Homeland Security (Border Patrol and Homeland Security Investigations Office).

Issued By: Sheriff Bill Elfo on behalf of the Northwest Regional Drug Task Force

Mobile Booking Unit

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Mobile Booking Unit supports law enforcement responders at major events with immediate booking capabilities.  This video shows how it is used during a recent civil disturbance exercise with Bellingham Police.

 

Three Arrested on Aggravated Assault Charges

On May 18th, the Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT) responded to the 3400 block of Lena Road on the Lummi Reservation in order to effectuate the arrest of persons wanted for assault who were believed to be armed with firearms.

The incident stemmed from a disturbance at the same location that was related to an earlier report of a theft of boat motor parts.  The victim of the theft went to a residence to recover stolen property.  PALMER Jr. challenged the victim to a fight, threatened physical harm to both he and his father and used a pit bull to intimate them.  When the victim of the theft’s father tried to ward off the pit bull, PALMER Jr. summoned his father to bring a gun.  PALMER, Sr. came out of the residence with a handgun, pointed it at them and ordered them off the property.  As the victim and his father left, they were followed and again threatened by PALMER, JR.

A short time after the initial incident, a female associated with the victim was in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of the Lummi Reservation.  She reported that the wife of one of the suspects, Denise PALMER, threatened her and allegedly stated she would shoot her in the head if she contacted police.  As the female was leaving to avoid a confrontation, Denise PALMER drove next to her and pointed a handgun at her.

All three suspects were taken into custody on May 18th. A search warrant was also served for the residence. Numerous weapons were found.

None of the suspects were enrolled tribal members and thus the case was investigated by the Sheriff’s Office.

Arrested and booked into the County Jail on the following charges were:

2 counts – Unlawful Possession of a Firearm 2nd / 2 counts Assault 2nd
Robert L. PALMER 11-18-49
3408 Lena Road, Bellingham, WA

2 counts – Assault 2nd / 1 count Possession of Stolen Property 2nd
Robert L. C. PALMER 10-15-72
3408 Lena Road, Bellingham, WA

1 count Felony Harassment / 1 count Assault 2nd
Denise M. PALMER 10-19-78
3408 Lena Road, Bellingham, WA

 

Get on Board with the Marine Unit

Whatcom County’s unique location at the northwest corner of the United States poses some interesting problems for law enforcement. Whatcom County has about 2000 square miles and is bordered on the east by 10,000 feet high Mount Baker, on the north by the 120 mile common boundary with British Columbia, Canada, by Bellingham Bay and a 60 mile shoreline on the west, and Skagit County on the South. The Nooksack River runs from Mount Baker at the east end of the county to Bellingham Bay and is navigable for part of its 60 mile length. There are many lakes with Lake Whatcom, at 12 miles long, the largest. Point Roberts, a part of Whatcom County, is a small peninsula attached to the mainland of Canada and is 47 miles distant from Bellingham by land and 30 miles over open water. At the east end of the county hydroelectric dams have created Ross Lake,  Diablo Lake and Gorge Lake.

MARINE UNIT MISSION

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office provides marine patrols and emergency response on the county lakes, the Nooksack River, along the county shoreline and on Bellingham Bay. Point Roberts, the part of the county that lies at the west end of British Columbia, can only be reached by transit through Canada, by air or by water. Point Roberts has no airfield. The Canadian government does not permit prisoners to be transported through Canada which requires the Sheriff’s Office to transport prisoners to the county proper by boat across the Straits of Georgia, Hales Pass and Bellingham Bay. Due to adverse weather conditions the trip may be made across Boundary Bay into the City of Blaine. The Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team cannot respond to Point Roberts incidents with its weapons and other equipment by transit through Canada and must respond by helicopter or by boat. The county does not own a helicopter.

The marine patrol unit utilizes several vessels to enforce water safety laws on the various bodies of water within Whatcom County, including Lake Samish, Lake Whatcom, the Nooksack River, Ross Lake, Baker Lake, Lake Diablo, and the North Puget Sound. Other duties performed by the unit involve border and coast protections as well as counter drug enforcement.

The Deputy Sheriff’s assigned to the Marine Unit respond to calls for assistance involving all the county’s rivers and lakes and also patrol the bay. In order to perform these tasks the Sheriff’s Office uses boats that are specially equipped for both law enforcement and rescue tasks. The boats are large enough for the types of incidents encountered in the county but small enough to be transported by trailer to where they are needed. Lake Whatcom is used heavily by boaters during the spring and summer. The Nooksack River is used by fishermen along its entire length both by boaters and fishermen especially during the salmon and steelhead runs.

The Deputy Sheriff’s assigned to the Marine Unit receive special training related to navigation, boat handling, boating safety, marine communications, and marine rules and regulations. They also perform inspections of boats moored in the county or afloat on its waters to verify that they are in compliance with state and federal regulations. The Marine Unit works closely with the CBP, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, United States Coast Guard, NOAA, Department of Homeland Security, and other federal agencies.

Whatcom County has two large marinas containing thousands of power and sail boats. Bellingham Bay is widely used in the spring and summer months. The Marine Unit is often called upon to assist boaters in distress and perform rescues when needed. The Unit also acts to apprehend those who break the law by operating their boats while under the influence or recklessly.

National Peace Officer’s Memorial Week

By Sheriff Bill Elfo

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15th as National Peace Officer’s Memorial Week. Beginning on May 13th, law enforcement and corrections Officers from around our nation will gather at the National Law Enforcement Memorial in Washington, D.C. where the names of the 19,298 officers killed in the line-of-duty are carved into the memorial wall.

The names appearing on the wall include Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff Matt Herzog and 272 other officers from Washington State who made the ultimate sacrifice. September 13, 2011 will mark the tenth anniversary of Deputy Herzog’s death.

To honor Deputy Herzog and all fallen officers, the Sheriff’s Office will be represented at the Memorial by its Honor Guard. Ceremonies will include placing a wreath near Deputy Herzog’s name.

The Sheriff’s Office’s participation was made possible through generous donations from employees, citizens, organizations and the Sheriff’s Foundation. On behalf of all members of the Sheriff’s Office, thank you.

As we honor the dead, we must support and pray for those who put their lives on the line every day. As a scripture on the memorial reflects, “”The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are as bold as a lion.” – Proverbs 28:1

Crime Rate Report

 

Sheriff Bill Elfo

By Sheriff Bill Elfo

The Uniformed Crime Report (UCR) is collected from participating law enforcement agencies and published by the FBI.  The UCR identifies eight “Part I Crimes”: murder, rape, robbery, arson, burglary, and larceny and auto theft.” It calculates a “crime rate” to reflect the numbers of each of those crimes per 1,000 residents. The information is reported to the law enforcement agency with primary responsibility.

Sheriff’s Offices rates are generally based on the unincorporated area of the county.  Because of responsibilities that are beyond that population,  it often includes cases that occur in county facilities including the jail and courts. Some offenses that occur within the boundaries of cities and involve non-tribal members on Indian reservations are also included.

The Sheriff’s Office has worked to reduce crime and ensure more patrol deputies are on the street where and when they are most needed.  The neighborhood deputy and criminal interdiction teams have focused on reversing emerging crime issues, violence associated with drug trafficking and gang activity.  A crime analyst reviews crime trends and provides information to all law enforcement officers in the County so habitual criminals can be prioritized and problems can be proactively addressed.

In late 2006, the removal of restrictions that prevented jailing many offenders was eliminated due to the opening of the Interim Jail Work Center and offenders were again held accountable for their crimes.

Over the past five years, Part I crimes reported to the Sheriff’s Office have dropped dramatically and in most categories, the rate of decrease has exceeded state and county-wide rates.  The overall properly crime rate dropped 40.7% and the overall violent crime rate dropped 6.3%.

Simple assault is classified as a UCR “Part II” crime and includes many instances of domestic violence.  From 2005 to 2010, the rate of simple assaults reported to the Sheriff’s Office dropped 37%.

After five years of declining crime rates, the Sheriff’s Office saw an increase in crime from 2009-2010.  Violent crime rose 4.3% and property crime rose 6.8%.  This took place when declining economic conditions caused severe budget cuts. This resulted in less availability of deputy sheriffs due to mandated hiring freezes that prevented filling vacant positions, furloughs of personnel and an inability to move funding for vacant positions to backfill with existing personnel.  It also coincided with state correctional policies that resulted in offenders with a high probability of re-offending being released into our communities without services or supervision. In addition, there were huge reductions in the availability of mental health services.

While crime rates are affected by a variety of social and economic policies and events, targeted law enforcement programs to reduce crime have been successful.  While the Sheriff’s Office is unable to fill vacant deputy sheriff positions due to a County hiring freeze, deputies are no longer furloughed.  A partnership with the State Department of Corrections resulted in the assignment of a Community Corrections Officer to work in the Sheriff’s Office and coordinate on crimes committed by high-risk offenders that have been released from prison. Your Sheriff’s Office will continue to make the best use of resources to ensure the safety of the community.

Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team Needs Locations for Training

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Special Response Team (SRT) was established in 2005 to support the extraordinary enforcement needs of the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and the citizens they serve.  The primary goal of SRT is to safely resolve high risk/crisis situations while minimizing the potential for injury or loss of life.  The Team was recently rated among the best in the State of Washington and are featured at on our blog.

To maintain proficiency, SRT along with the Crisis Negotiation Team (CNT) are always in search of structures in which it can train and practice their tactics.  If anyone has commercial buildings, buildings under construction or structures to be demolished and are willing to allow the Sheriff’s Office to use it for training, your assistance will go along way towards maintaining the proficiency of the team.

The Sheriff’s Office will ensure that indemnification agreements and liability waivers are in place for the protection of our hosts.

For further information, please email Sergeant Kevin Mede: kmede(at)whatcomcounty(dot)us