January 18, 2018

Sheriff’s Office Issues Awards to Employees and Citizens for Significant Actions and Contributions

NEWS RELEASE 05/15/2015 3:40:32 PM
(360) 676-6650 (360) 384-5360 Recorded Press Line (360) 676-6707 ext. 56397
Bill Elfo, Sheriff

The month of May marks National Police Week and National Corrections Officer and Employees’ Week.

On May 8th, Deputy James Chatfield was honored at the Washington State Police Memorial in Olympia. Deputy Chatfield died on July 29, 1921 after being shot by suspected smugglers near Blaine. His death had been lost to the institutional memory of the Sheriff’s Office and was only discovered in 2013 through the work of a historian. Deputy Chatfield’s two great-grandsons attended the ceremony. Deputy Chatfield joins Deputy Matt Herzog, who was killed in the line of duty on September 13, 2001, in being recognized on the memorial.


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Washington State and National Memorials

The Sheriff’s Office held its Awards Recognition Ceremony on May 12th and also honored Sergeant Larry Flynn who will retire at the end of the month with 35 years of service. Sheriff Elfo also presented a proclamation to honor Police and Corrections Weeks to the County Council on May 12th.

Sheriff’s Office Awards Issued:

Unit Citation
The Sheriff’s Unit Citation is awarded by the Sheriff to an entire unit whose members perform their assigned duties in an unusually effective manner.

The Sheriff’s Office Crisis Response Unit is especially trained to defuse volatile situations involving those in mental health crisis. Members of the Team are recruited from both the Bureau of Law Enforcement and the Bureau of Corrections. During 2014, the Team successfully resolved several situations including persuading a suicidal man not to jump from an I-5 overpass on to the Freeway; persuading a suicidal and possibly homicidal man who had called 9-1-1 to request that a deputy to respond so he could kill the deputy or the deputy could kill him- in this case, the suspect had armed himself with a hammer and a large knife and was standing in the middle of the roadway; and persuaded a mother to surrender after she had barricaded herself in a home with her son who attempted to kill deputies.

Crisis Response Team Members:
Sergeant Beth Larson
Sergeant Kevin Mede
Deputy Chris Freeman
Deputy Pete Stevenson
Deputy Lonnie Baumann
Deputy Steve Roff
Deputy Randy Winter
Deputy Julie Baker

Sheriff’s Lifesaving Award
The Lifesaving Award is awarded by the Sheriff to members who personally save a life.

Deputy Joe Anders

Deputy Joe Anders was monitoring Fire Dispatch during April 2013, and heard medics call being dispatched to Kelly Road. The only information available was that a woman called 911 hysterically crying, that her husband had collapsed, and she was doing CPR on him. Deputy Anders was not dispatched to the call but decided to respond. Deputy Anders arrived to find the wife improperly attempting CPR. Deputy Anders took over and properly administered CPR until medics arrived. The man, Francisco Rodriguez, was transported to St. Joseph’s Hospital. Deputy Anders drove Jessica Rodriguez to the hospital to be by her husband’s side. Francisco made a full recovery. If it weren’t for Deputy Anders’ willingness to go out of his way to respond to a fire call and help a stranger, this young husband and father would have died from a previously undiagnosed arrhythmia problem and the resulting heart

Deputy Chad Heinrich

On January 29, 2015, Deputy Heinrich was working his assigned patrol area. He overheard a Fire District being dispatched to a capsized vessel in the Nooksack River near Nugent’s Corner. It was reported that two boaters were in the water and unaccounted for. Deputy Heinrich responded to the boat launch. He observed that the Fire Department was still conducting their pre-launch checks and believed that time was of the essence. Deputy Heinrich observed a citizen, Patrick Mills, pulling his boat from the river and he asked Mr. Mills if he could pilot his boat with Deputy Heinrich aboard to try and locate and rescue the victims. The victim’s core body temperature had dropped significantly and having lost control of voluntary muscle movement, it is very plausible that he could have slipped off the snag and drown in the river at any moment. Deputy Heinrich’s quick thinking and utilization of unorthodox resources; a private citizen’s boat, prevented delay which likely saved the victim’s life.

Corrections Personnel:

On January 13, 2015 an inmate in the Whatcom County Jail attempted to commit suicide by hanging himself with a bed sheet. Deputy Nick Ellis quickly discovered the attempted suicide and summoned assistance. Deputy David Kimball lifted the suicidal man to relieve pressure on his neck and later helped remove the noose from the inmate’s neck. Deputy Chris Freeman, assisted by inmates, helped untie the knot that was secured to a rail. Deputy James Hayes helped lower the inmate to the floor while maintaining control of his cervical spine to prevent injuries. While later guarding the inmate at the hospital, Deputy Hayes convinced him to accept mental health assistance as an alternative to suicide. These deputies’ quick and competent actions prevented the suspect’s death.

Deputy Nick Ellis
Deputy David Kimball
Deputy James Hayes
Deputy Chris Freeman

Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate (for actions taken during the January 13, 2015 incident)
The Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate is awarded by Bureau Chiefs to those members who, through their own efforts, perform their jobs in a high quality and professional manner.

Deputy Jason Waite
Deputy Landon Marshall
Nurse Abby Aubert
Nurse Brady Hillman

Meritorious Service Award:
The Meritorious Service Award is awarded by the Sheriff to members who whose actions are well in excess of the performance of their duties and have a significant, positive impact in the lives of members of the public.

On November 16, 2014 deputies were summoned to a residence in rural Whatcom County where a convicted and wanted felon was intimidating neighbors by firing a weapon near the property line. When deputies arrived, the suspect pointed the weapon at them and retreated into a building and barricaded himself inside. During the course of this incident, the suspect strategically staged firearms at multiple points in the home. The suspect later opened fire and shot at the deputies multiple times resulting in one deputy being shot in the face. The suspect refused to surrender. Following a volley of shots fired at deputies, the deputies returned fire killing the suspect. Throughout this incident, the deputies relied on their training and deployed good tactics and courage to protect neighbors and each other.

Deputy Brent Wagenaar
Deputy DJ Osborn
Ferndale Officer Justin Pike
Deputy Courtney Polinder
Deputy Damon Bruland
Deputy Jason Nyhus
Deputy Brian Oswalt
Deputy Jason Gum
Deputy Jim Perez
Deputy Rodger Funk
Sergeant Kevin Moyes
Lieutenant Scott Rossmiller

Distinguished Service Cross
The Distinguished Service Cross is awarded by the Sheriff to members who distinguish themselves by demonstrating exceptional bravery despite a known or unknown imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death.

Deputy Bill Roosma
Deputy Magnus Gervol
Deputy Tony Paz
Deputy Todd Damon
Deputy James Triplett
Deputy Austin Streubel
Deputy Erik Francis
Deputy Jarren Van Loo
Deputy Ryan Rathbun
Deputy Mark Jilk

Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate

The Bureau Chief’s Commendation Certificate is awarded by Bureau Chiefs to those members who, through their own efforts, perform their jobs in a high quality and professional manner.

On Christmas Eve 2014, Deputy Vandermay and Kimball discovered and interrupted a suicide by hanging in which an inmate had attempted to hang himself with his clothing. The deputies rescued the inmate before he was seriously harmed.

Deputy David Kimball
Deputy Ben Vandermay

Deputy Reis was recognized for taking the initiative to implement strategies to improve the environment and the jail work center to include organizing the painting of the cell areas; improving security procedures and morale.

Deputy Mark Reis

Deputy Turner was recognized for his efforts to improve order, security and safety by taking the initiative and using his talents to build a rapport with inmates; hold them accountable for institutional misbehavior and reduce issues with inmate rule and increase offender accountability.

Deputy Rich Turner

The Distinguished Citizenship Award Patrick Mills

The Distinguished Citizenship Award is s awarded by the Sheriff to any citizen who provides significant assistance to a Sheriff’s Office member or supports Sheriff’s Office missions in a significant way
On January 29, 2015 Deputy Heinrich recognized an urgent need to rescue a man who was clinging on to life in the Nooksack River. Patrick Mills agreed to use his private vessel and pilot Deputy Heinrich to the drowning man and help effectuate a successful rescue.

On January 13, 2015 two inmates in the Whatcom County Jail assisted deputies with rescuing a fellow inmate who had attempted to hang himself with a bed sheet. The inmates specifically assisted the deputies with loosening the knot securing the bed sheet to a rail.

The Distinguished Citizenship Award is s awarded by the Sheriff to any citizen who provides significant assistance to a Sheriff’s Office member or supports Sheriff’s Office missions in a significant way
The inmates did not attend the ceremony and their names are withheld to protect their privacy.

Jail Time for defendants in Bogus Report of Home Invasion

From the Bellingham Herald


FERNDALE – A 17-year-old babysitter and her two friends have been sentenced to juvenile detention and jail time for faking a home-invasion robbery near Ferndale, then covering it up by blaming the break-in on an African-American neighbor.

The teenage girl, of Bellingham, faces up to a year behind bars.

She had been working as a babysitter for two girls, aged 1 and 4, for about three months at an apartment in the 5300 block of Northwest Drive. She was watching over them, and her own 1-year-old son, at 4:20 p.m. June 18, when two young men burst through the door.

They shouted, “Get the (expletive) out!”

“Go outside, don’t ask questions,” the babysitter told the girls, “and don’t look back.”

But the 4-year-old girl did look back. Later her description of the men – who had “grumpy” voices and “peach” skin, she said – helped to crack the case.

The babysitter and the girls fled, but dallied, before going to a neighbor’s house to call 911. The teenage girl described the robbers as two black men in their 20s, dressed in black clothing. One man, who looked thinner, held a knife; the other, more muscular man had what looked like a gun handle sticking out of his backpack, she said.

A U.S. border helicopter, police dogs and heavily armed sheriff’s deputies swarmed the neighborhood.

The babysitter pointed out that one of the neighbors was black and looked like one of the “robbers.” So Cody Oakes, 25, was called out of his home at rifle-point, handcuffed, questioned, and detained for hours in the back of a patrol car.

Other than a traffic ticket, Oakes has no criminal history. He’s an analyst at J.P. Morgan and quarterback for the semipro Bellingham Bulldogs. He calmly explained he’d just been getting ready for football practice when he saw the SWAT team roll up, and that he knew nothing about the break-in.

Confronted, the babysitter changed her story. One of the suspects might be a homeless East Indian man she knew, she said. Eventually, she admitted one of her 16-year-old friends had done it, but she claimed he acted alone. She finally caved and said she and her boyfriend, Ruben Jerome Benjamin, hatched the plot.

According to a court document filed this month by Deputy Prosecutor Evan Jones, they’d been planning it for weeks. The babysitter agreed to pack up the items they would steal and to unlock the doors.

Two hours beforehand, she messaged Benjamin, “Your going to need a couple of backpacks and take my diaper bag from the house too. It’ll look weird if mu stuff isn’t taken too” (sic).

She followed up via text an hour-and-a-half later: “I pods in both bed rooms. Look through the cubes in the bed room and the shelf in the living room. Um multipurpose room jewelry box.”

The other teens put on black Latex gloves and backpacks, and parked blocks away from the apartment. They stole a piggy bank, laptops, gaming gear – in all, about $1,500 in property. Nearly all of it was recovered the same day.

The babysitter and the 16-year-old accomplice pleaded guilty this week to residential burglary and conspiring to commit residential burglary. She was sentenced in juvenile court to 44 to 52 weeks; the boy must serve 15 to 36 weeks in juvenile detention.

The Bellingham Herald doesn’t name minors convicted of crimes that don’t result in a death. The babysitter turns 18 next week.

Benjamin, 18, has been serving out his six-month jail sentence since pleading guilty to second-degree robbery and residential burglary in July.

All three had a history of petty crimes: minor in possession of alcohol, third-degree theft, second-degree malicious mischief and drug possession.

They’re barred from contacting the victim family. Restitution remains to be determined.

Read more here: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2014/08/15/3803947/babysitter-accomplices-in-bogus.html#storylink=cpy

Sheriff works to keep serial rapist who received life sentence behind bars

Sheriff Bill Elfo was recently notified that the Washington State Intermediate Sentencing Review Board granted parole to Donald Randolph Hooper (date of birth 8-1-1957) and that the State Department of Corrections (DOC) had planned to relocate him to a residence in the 5100 block of the Guide Meridian north of Bellingham. Hooper was serving a Life Sentence in the State Prison at Monroe for the 1st Degree Rape and Attempted First Degree Murder of a child.

Sheriff Elfo’s review of the DOC file revealed that in December of 1982, Hooper abducted a 14 year old girl at gunpoint from her bus stop in Seattle. After threatening to kill her, her forced her into the trunk of his vehicle where he gagged her, bound her with flex-ties and menaced her with a knife, cut off her clothing and fondled her breasts and buttocks.

Hooper, a State Ferry System worker at the time of the incident, locked the girl in the trunk of the vehicle and drove on to a ferry bound for Kitsap County. Hooper drove to a secluded area where he raped the child. He then tightened the flex-ties that bound her and threw her into the Hood Canal where he left her for dead. Fortunately, the 14 year old child was able to remain afloat, make her way to shore and seek help. Hooper and the child were strangers to each other at the time of the crime. The investigation revealed that the flex-ties and gag used by Hooper to control his victim were stolen from the Ferry System.

Hooper was also convicted in 1986 of Rape in the 1st Degree following another incident in which he admitted to picking up a female hitchhiker, binding her with flex-ties and raping her at gunpoint. Although Hooper admitted to this offense, his conviction was reversed on appeal due to the use of a post-hypnotic identification procedure. Hooper also admitted to other sex crimes against women that were not prosecuted.

A 2010 pre-release evaluation concluded that Hooper presented a “moderate-risk for violent and sexual recidivism if released into the community” and that the “possibility of very serious psychological and/or physical harm, if not lethality, would be considerable.” Previous evaluations characterized his crime as “a calculated, callous and cold-blooded offense that reflects a total disregard for human life.” The Department of Corrections noted that Hooper obtained two associate degrees while serving in prison. Records also note disciplinary infractions were incurred while in prison for refusing to perform work. The Department of Corrections rated Hooper as Risk Level III Sex Offender, meaning that he has a “high risk to re- offend.” The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office concurred that Hooper has a “high risk to re-offend” and that he presents a grave danger to our community. Other information from the Department of Corrections indicates that Hooper will be supervised on parole for at least three years.

According to Indeterminate Sentencing Review Board’ staff, the decision to grant parole to Hooper was discretionary and not mandatory. The Governor has the ability to reverse the Board’s decision.

Sheriff Elfo said: “Hooper should not be turned lose to re-offend in Whatcom County or for that matter, any other community. He is physically capable of victimizing more women and children. The State even admits that he is likely to re-offend. We do not want to raise the possibility that we will have to inform a parent that Hooper has harmed their child without first doing all we can to reverse a decision that we feel is contrary to the safety of our citizens.”

Sheriff Elfo went on to say: “I appreciate the efforts of the other officials I contacted for assistance in stopping Hooper’s release that included staff from the Governor’s Office, our state delegation from the 42nd Legislative District where Hooper was to be housed and the Prosecuting Attorneys from both Whatcom and Kitsap counties. As a result of these efforts, officials were persuaded to reconsider Hooper’s parole.”

Sheriff Elfo was contacted by Washington State Secretary of Corrections late Tuesday afternoon and was informed that the decision to release Hooper would be delayed and that the Indeterminate Sentencing Board would be asked to review its decision.

Sheriff Elfo’s Budget Presentation to Council Members