January 18, 2018

Archives for August 2011

National Institute of Corrections to Visit Whatcom County

The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a technical assistance grant from the United States Department of Justice’s National Institute of Corrections (NIC) to assist the County Council’s Jail Planning Task Force with its mission of assessing jail capacity and design needs as well as offer recommendations for improvements to the criminal justice and mental health systems that have the potential to reduce the need for incarceration and costly jail operations.


Sheriff Bill Elfo said: “Jails are expensive to build and operate.  We must ensure that planning for a new jail takes into account not only the need for a ‘right-sized,’ properly designed and appropriately sited facility, but also pursue a system-wide approach that maximizes alternatives to incarceration and mental health options.  The National Institute of Corrections has cutting edge expertise and their recommendations should be of great assistance to the Jail Planning Task Force, Council and the Executive.”

 NIC staff will be in Whatcom County for three days next week and will discuss their work at a community presentation on Wednesday, August 31 from 9 a.m. to noon.  This presentation will not replace the series of community meetings the Jail Planning Task Force anticipates holding in the near future.

Unsolved Homicide


The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is requesting the public’s assistance in identifying the pictured individual, who is described as a white male in his mid-20’s with long, dark, straight hair, dark features, some facial hair, 5’9” to 6’ tall, and about 150-160 lbs.  The subject was wearing a baseball cap backwards on his head and had on a pair of light tan Lugz-type boots.  The subject was seen outside Herb Niemann’s Steak House in Everson on the evening of July 28, 2009 and may be a witness in the homicide of Jeffrey C. Little. 

Employees stated that the subject sat down on a bench outside the steakhouse and said that he thought he broke his right ankle and was just taking a break.  He appeared to be texting someone and detectives believe he was sitting on the bench or standing nearby when Little exited the steakhouse and left in his truck.  Minutes later, on an isolated stretch of Massey Road just east of Highway 9, Little’s truck was sprayed with gunfire resulting in his death.

Citizens are encouraged to contact Detective Collins at the Sheriff’s Office, phone 360-676-6650, if they recognize the subject or have any information on the Little homicide.

Sheriff’s Office Tip Line:

  • Criminal activity tip line:  (360)715-7459 and 1-866-456-2157

Behind the Scenes at WCSO: Civil and Support Services

Those who have watched Law and Order, CSI, or NCIS seldom see behind the scenes as to what it takes to make it all come together. The “back room” staff at the Sheriff’s Office is responsible for performing numerous essential functions for the Sheriff’s Office. Their efforts assist in producing smooth and efficient operations for those whose tasks are more visible.

The Civil and Support Services Bureau responsibilities include; Records and ID; warrant entry and tracking; civil and criminal protection order entry, tracking, and service; civil functions; evidence management; volunteer services; radio communications; and equipment procurement services. Volunteer services will be covered in a future article.


Each time a Patrol Deputy or Detective is involved with an incident a report is compiled and submitted to the Records Division. The report contains basic information such as the date, time, and location of the incident; type of crime; names, addresses, and other contact information of victims and witnesses; names, addresses, and physical descriptions of suspects; description of lost or damaged property; and any evidence collected. The investigator submitting the incident report also writes and attaches a detailed narrative to the incident report that describes his/her involvement in the incident. An incident number, or case number, is also assigned to track this incident report in the data collection system.

Information that is part of our present data collection program is used for further investigation, identification of the persons involved, County Prosecutor, and for the courts to assist with their processes. Information is also sent to our Crime Analyst to determine crime patterns and possible suspect information. Records and ID personnel also provide other essential services to the general public to include: fingerprinting, concealed weapons permits, public disclosure requests, and court order service and tracking.


All evidence related to a crime must be carefully retrieved, identified, recorded, and securely stored. From the time that possession of the evidence takes place until following its presentation in court the chain of evidence control must not be broken. Each person who handles the evidence must sign for it and ensure that it is not allowed to leave their control until properly transferred. The Sheriff’s Office has facilities for secure storage of evidence and maintains a barcode computerized tracking system showing that the “chain” has not been broken. Periodic audits of the evidence control system are made to ensure that the system is functioning in accordance with proper procedures. Evidence technicians within the Records Division are specifically trained to handle and process specific evidence that is transferred to the Washington State Patrol crime labs for further processing and analysis. The Sheriff’s Office Evidence techs are also responsible for the release of property to owners and for the destruction of illegal items such as drugs and firearms that cannot be possessed under local, state, and federal statutes.


The radio communication problems associated with a two thousand square mile area to patrol are many and complex. The geography of Whatcom County presents more challenging issues in regards to radio coverage than many other locations in theUnited States due to mountain and valley formations. These geological features create numerous ‘dead spots’ where radio communication is not possible, using our current system. Officer safety is compromised in these areas.

Due to the proximity toCanada, Whatcom County also faces a unique issue regarding the acquisition of new radio frequencies. Not only does the FCC have to authorize the licensing of new frequencies, Canada also has to agree to the use of those frequencies. If both entities do not authorize the use of a specific frequency, the license is denied. This has sorely limited frequencies that are available for use in radio system improvements. Federal law enforcement agencies and some local police departments along this border also use radio frequencies and equipment that are not compatible with Whatcom County’s radio system. This heightens officer safety issues when trying to communicate with those agencies in times of emergency.


Various civil and non-civil court documents are served, in large part, by a Civil Deputy Sheriff assigned from the Patrol Division.  Each action taken by the Chief Civil Deputy, Civil Deputy Sheriff, or his designee is recorded and tracked in our civil tracking system, since it becomes part of the court record. The Civil staff works closely with the courts and other legal entities in the performance of their duties. The Civil Deputy also executes civil orders from the courts such as evictions and sheriff’s sales, among others.


Broken, worn out, or obsolete equipment reduces the efficiency of the Sheriff’s Office personnel. Radios, computers, and other equipment are procured by the Civil and Support Services Bureau for use by the Sheriff’s Office personnel.

Any equipment procured by the Sheriff’ Office is processed and tagged as directed by Whatcom County’s equipment tracking policy. This process also allows for the transfer, surplus, and destruction of county owned equipment based on value and condition.