I emailed the Executive with regard to the Trump visit and received a prompt response, which included an email that Sheriff Elfo had prepared when responding to another citizen on this issue. I am posting the stream of emails below, beginning with
the first one that I sent Jack and ending in the last email I sent in response to Jack. In short, the Executive and the Sheriff thought it was appropriate to become involved in the interest of public safety. I was advised that the cost for the event is still being tallied.
To: Jack Louws
Subject: Question regarding funding for Trump visit
Dear Jack: I am struggling to understand how the county sheriff’s office got involved in the Trump visit. I understand that this was a decision approved by the city of Lynden and that it has special permit approval for the fairgrounds. But Lynden is a city and it has its own police department, and I would assume they would consider their resources when they approved an event that would require a drain on law enforcement.
How does the county sheriff get involved? Don’t you have to approve this? Does the Sheriff have independent authority to make this decision and if so, does Sheriff Elfo need to advise you since it will involve county funding? If the county is required to provide assistance to another city without any ability to affect the initial decision to allow Mr. Trump to visit, can you please provide me with the statutory authority for this? Things do not make sense to me so there are obviously facts and/or law that I am not aware of. There are cities without the financial ability to pay for the costs of a presidential nominee’s visit and it is hard to believe that they do not have the authority to say no based on resource constraints.
I would appreciate your assistance in clarifying this issue. And could you please provide me with updated information regarding the estimated costs of this visit.?
From: Jack Louws
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 9:22 AM
Cc: Arden Landry; Bill Elfo
Subject: RE: Question regarding funding for Trump visit
The Northwest Washington Fair is exempted from the City of Lynden’s special event permit process for all activities on the fairground property. The event was inked by the Fair and the Trump campaign, and Lynden and all law enforcement through mutual aid reacted to provide for the public safety of the citizens as there was high likelihood of supporters and protesters in close proximity to each other. (I have recommended to the Mayor and Police Chief of Lynden that they may want to re-visit that exemption to their ordinance )The Sheriff has the authority as an elected official to make the determination of where the personnel resources of his department are used for mutual aid in instances such as these. Remember, he and I are elected officials for the citizens of Lynden also, as we are elected by everyone in Whatcom County. He and I feel it was in the interest of public safety that we become involved.
At this point, the Trump, Clinton, and Sanders campaigns controls where they are going to hold events, and the Secret Service, who provides for the safety of the candidate, is obligated to do the best they can to provide the protection necessary. I assume that if the President were to come to Whatcom County, the Secret Service would be assessing whether a small community would be a safe venue for the President, due to lack of area law enforcement, and may have nixed the plan.
I trust that as a society that we (everyone in the U.S.) will be open to having all candidates for public office welcome in our small or large community, whether they be Republican or Democrat, or Libertarian, ect. We will need to continue to be ready to react, although I think we are due more notice than what was given to be ready. Whatcom County is a taxing district that collects funds from everyone in the county and will stand ready to help when necessary to provide for the public’s safety. All law enforcement operates under a code of providing help (mutual aid) when necessary, and that is why we had uniformed officers from throughout the region helping, just as there was last weekend in Skagit for the oil protests in Anacortes.
The costs associated with the event are still being tallied. When I have a number presented to me, I’ll try to remember to pass it along to you. If you don’t hear back in a week or two, remind me.
Thanks for the inquiry. This is a fast reply, so hopefully I got to the main points for clarification!
From: “Jack Louws”
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 10:06:17 AM
Subject: FW: Question regarding funding for Trump visit
Wendy, The Sheriff knows the full extent of his obligation under the law. This is an e-mail he used previously as a response to an inquiry.
Have a good day.
From: Bill Elfo
Sent: Friday, May 20, 2016 9:58 AM
To: Jack Louws
Cc: David McEachran
Subject: RE: Question regarding funding for Trump visit
Jack, thank you for responding to the citizen’s inquiry. I want to provide additional information on the Sheriff’s obligation to provide law enforcement functions within Whatcom County municipalities.
The Sheriff is mandated by statute to perform law enforcement functions throughout the County. [i] The Washington State Attorney General affirmed this statutory requirement in Attorney General Opinion 1990-4:
The sheriff … [is] the chief law enforcement officer of the county….. Nowhere has the Legislature indicated that the sheriff’s powers and duties are limited to the unincorporated areas of the county. Nor is there any statutory language from which such a limitation might be inferred…..We thus conclude that the sheriff has a general duty to enforce state law in both unincorporated and incorporated areas of the county.
As noted in that opinion, the existence of a municipal police department does not diminish the Sheriff’s duties:
We recognize that the Legislature, in addition to delineating the sheriff’s powers and duties, has provided for the establishment of city and town police departments… [T]he existence of a municipal police department does not in itself diminish the general duty of the county sheriff to enforce state law within a city or town. Indeed, this office has twice previously concluded that where the statutory powers and duties granted to municipal police departments coincides with those granted to county sheriffs, the municipality’s jurisdiction is concurrent, not exclusive, within the municipality’s boundaries….The sheriff’s authority is county wide. He is not restricted by municipal limits… Thus, the statutory duties of the sheriff apply equally within and without municipal boundaries. [ii]
The existence of a municipal police department does not alter the Sheriff’s responsibility under the law. “To the extent that a particular city’s police department is unable to provide adequate police protection, the sheriff’s office has a duty to allocate its resources accordingly…[The Sheriff’s]duty to prevent and suppress such offenses is the same as it would be if there were no municipality and no police force.” [iii] In emphasizing this county wide duty, the Attorney General noted that the Washington Supreme Court held in State ex rel. Zempel v. Twitchell, “sheriff is obligated to “devote unceasing effort toward performing and discharging those duties of the office which are imposed by law.” [iv]
Given the travel and venue plans presented by the United States Secret Service as well as disorder at past demonstrations, it was estimated by the State Patrol and the Secret Service that 500-600 uniformed law enforcement officers would be needed to ensure public safety, order and the constitutionally protected speech and assembly rights of all. Given the short notice and staffing levels, the Lynden Police Department had only ten officers available. It was my legal responsibility to fulfill my statutory duties as enumerated in RCW 36.28.010 within the City of Lynden.
It should further be noted that an informal quid pro quo exists in exchange between the Office of Sheriff and municipal police chiefs. Municipal police departments frequently deploy officers into unincorporated areas to assist in handling incidents when deputy sheriffs are not available for response. Unlike the sheriff’s statutory duty to provide law enforcement within the city limits, the police departments do not have a corresponding duty and frequently provide assistance gratuitously.
[i] RCW 36.28.010
[ii] See Also Washington State Attorney General Opinions 61-62 and 74-96
[iii] Attorney General Opinion 90-4
[iv] 59 Wn.2d 419, 427, 367 P.2d 985 (1962)
Sheriff Bill Elfo
To: “jack louws”
Subject: Re: Question regarding funding for Trump visit
Jack, thank you for your prompt response. I agree with you that we should fully support visitation from candidates of all political persuasions. I do have some hesitation with regard to candidates that have a history of violence connected with their visits. However, that is not my primary concern.
Rather, given the county’s financial situation, I think it would be reasonable to approve permits related to candidate visits subject to the campaigns paying for their own way, and Lynden should be advised that because they do not need permit approval, they will need to confer with the county regarding its willingness to provide police support. It appears that King County required a private party that originally intended to host Trump to develop and pay for the costs of security. A permit was not approved when these important details were not forthcoming.
A small county like Whatcom could be left in a financial crisis if several presidential candidates all decided to visit. As you are aware, this is a matter that has caused concern for some constituents at a time when we do not have funding to pay for basic essential services and facilities. My priority is to ensure that we have money to fund EMS and the jail and connected social services.
Thank you for listening to my concerns.
Read Wendy’s post in the Whatcom Hawk Facebook group here.
Below are some comments by Sandy Robson attached to this post with additional information on this subject :
John Gargett, Deputy Director
Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management, said in a May 10, 2016, email reply to me:
“With respect to your questions, at this point all agencies who supported the effort did so within their own financial resources under mutual aid requests, however the feasibility of reimbursement and/or request for compensation is being evaluated by the County. ”
I replied asking Gargett what exactly does “under mutual aid” mean. He responded:
“Law Enforcement and the Fire Communities have established formal agreements to support one another as needed during events. For example, last summer the fires that were burning state wide required fire fighters from all over the northwest. They were activated under mutual aid agreements. The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office used Law Enforcement mutual aid for the Trump rally.”
In trying to find more information about Whatcom County mutual aid agreement, I came across Whatcom County Code 2.40.120. I copied an excerpt from that full page of content.
2.40.120 Mutual aid agreement.
Pursuant to Chapter 38.52 RCW, Whatcom County shall enter into a mutual aid agreement through its emergency management division with Skagit, Island and San Juan Counties. Whenever any party to the agreement suffers a disaster which requires additional aid beyond that which said party is able to provide for itself, each other party to this agreement, at the request of the stricken party through the county department of emergency management, agrees to lend such stricken party the maximum amount of equipment, facilities, and manpower that it can reasonably spare at that time. (Ord. 89-115 (part)).
I’m not saavy in this area, so I’m not sure, but from what I read, I’m not so sure that Sheriff Elfo could use the Law Enforcement mutual aid agreement for the May 7 Trump rally in Lynden. From what I’ve read so far, mutual aid agreement seems to be intended for emergency situations such as big fires, natural disasters, etc. The Trump rally was a planned event.
I hope people will ask questions of the County Executive, Sheriff Elfo, John Gargett, and County Council about this because my knowledge on this stuff is limited.
I can’t find anything online about Whatcom County Law Enforcement mutual aid agreement in terms of detailed guidelines, rules, etc., so I emailed the Sheriff Elfo this morning, asking where I can learn specifics about the Law Enforcement mutual aid agreement.
Hope to hear back on that soon.
Chapter 2.40 EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
A. “Disaster” means actual or threatened enemy attack, sabotage, extraordinary fire, flood, storm, epidemic, riot, earthquake, extraordinary hazardous materials incident or other similar public calamity.
Like · Reply · 1 · 18 hrs
So, the NW Washington Fair Assoc., the City of Lynden, and Sheriff Elfo have so far cost Whatcom County $130,000 in expenses for Trump’s rally:
According to an email I received today from John Gargett, Deputy Director Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Division of Emergency Management:
“Also, as of yesterday, the costs that have been turned in by just local agencies is 130,500. We have not gotten any costs from any non-Whatcom County agencies yet, but I have been told they are working on it.”
Like · Reply · 18 hrs
I have spent a lot of time and effort following up on this and I am upset that our County Sheriff and Executive allowed this to occur in the manner it did.
Senator Ericksen went to his “good ol’ boy” friends; Korthuis, Louws, and Elfo asking for this for the presidential candidate whose campaign he works on, and asked them to help him bring Trump to Lynden. And they made it happen.
Can the NW Washington Fair decide on its own to rent out its facility for an event that necessitates security and protection of this magnitude without assurances from more than one person, our County Sheriff?
I want Sheriff Elfo, Jack Louws, and Mayor Korthuis (whose city required no permit for this activity due to an exemption ordinance for the Fair) to address the County Council and public to explain exactly what took place in the decision process relating to the Trump event at the Fairgrounds.
Like · Reply · 18 hrs