First responders await training in ‘behavioral health 101,’ due late 2022 / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click screenshot of slide from during the May 17, 2022 Whatcom County Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee meeting to access a recording of the meeting on the County website

May 19, 2022 Dena Jensen

Ever think, here in the year 2022 in Bellingham and Whatcom County, folks have got to be off-base who are claiming that law enforcement officers, paramedics, EMT’s (emergency medical technicians) or firefighters don’t have sufficient knowledge of behavioral health concepts and approaches to properly serve the needs of community members? 

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How can we be confident we won’t just build another Whatcom County Jail? / Letter to the Justice Project Stakeholder Advisory Committee

May 11, 2022 Dena Jensen

Next week, on Monday, May 16, 2022, City of Bellingham is hosting their town hall meeting on Public Safety. Here is the link to attend that town hall: https://cob.org/event/cctownhall-05162022

In advance of that forum the Bellingham City Council received some presentations yesterday from the Whatcom County Prosecutor and from Bellingham Police Department’s Deputy Chief related to crime. 

Based on material I heard in those presentations I sent the email below to the Whatcom County Justice Project’s Stakeholder Advisory Committee. This is the email address people can use to contact them: SAC@co.whatcom.wa.us

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Get involved in the Whatcom County Justice Project needs assessment / Noisy Waters Northwest

Click the image of white text on a vibrant pink background to access a PDF version

May 2, 2022 Dena Jensen

As people are becoming more and more aware, Whatcom County is moving forward in various government meetings towards a needs assessment for what they are calling a  “public health, safety and justice facility.” In general, that facility is acknowledged to be a new jail in combination with mental and behavioral health services.

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Part One – The race to displace: reviewing parking enforcement videos for obstacles to services for those in crisis

Edited body cam still frame in black and white of a car with rear door open showing the car interior and a person in jeans and socks laying under a long sweatshirt on the back seat. There is some graffiti on the door and seat-backs and one white athletic shoe next to the person on the seat. Some identifying material in the original image is removed.

April 22, 2022 Dena Jensen

Preface

On March 14, 2022, a presentation was given on RV parking code enforcement by Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Lieutenant Claudia Murphy to Bellingham City Council’s Committee of the Whole. This presentation was given about three and a half months after City of Bellingham had initiated rigorous parking code enforcement following the lifting of the statewide ban on evictions.

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Weeks, and weeks, and weeks of parking and sheltering predicaments / Letter to Bellingham and Whatcom County officials

Screenshot of Bellingham Police Department Lt. Claudia Murphy’s 12-30-21 body cam still frame showing a road and parked vehicles covered with snow, blue sky overhead, sun low toward the horizon, and the silhouettes of a person in a hat with their dog

April 10, 2022 Dena Jensen

Sent: Sunday, April 10, 2022, 06:06:37 PM PDT

Dear Bellingham City Council, Mayor Fleetwood, Whatcom County Council, and County Executive Sidhu:

Over the last week or two, I have been reviewing body worn camera recordings of Bellingham Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Lt. Claudia Murphy related to City of Bellingham’s increase in parking enforcement during the current pandemic. 

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A matter of public records: challenges in the quest for transparency

Click the Los Angeles Times image of farmworkers silhouetted in front of an indigo sky and the headline of the publication’s 12/9/19 article, “Berry farm company fined $3.5 million over worker abuses” to access the article on their website

March 31, 2022 Dena Jensen

From some of my experiences and observations over the course of the last year, I would say that we are in a period where the tools for community members in Whatcom County to hold their elected and appointed officials accountable are more challenging to employ in some ways. There are at least some public records requests that are being filled more slowly than they were in years past, and rules around providing open public comment at local government meetings have fluctuated, with some opportunities to do so in the City of Bellingham having been eliminated. It remains to be seen if this pans out to be a temporary phenomenon or one that we continue to increasingly struggle with.

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Regarding RV parking enforcement and equity in Bellingham / Letter to Bellingham City Council

March 15, 2022 Dena Jensen

Click the screenshot of text describing the IChange Justice podcast, “One Crisis Away from Homelessness” to access the description and podcast on Google Podcasts

Sent: Tuesday, March 15, 2022, 06:25:35 PM PDT

Subject: Regarding RV parking enforcement and equity in our community

Dear Bellingham City Council:

Yesterday I was able to listen to most of your March 14, 2022 Committee of the Whole meeting, and your entire discussion related to the “Update on RV’s and the 72 hour Rule.”  

First, I would like to mention the part of the committee discussion on enforcing parking code for RVs where Bellingham Police Department Lieutenant Claudia Murphy responded to Bellingham City Council Chair Hannah Stone talking about the challenge of packing up camping gear increasing in relation to how often people might have to do that. It was apparent in the discussion that most of the community members undergoing code enforcement were living in their RVs as their primary shelter. 

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Memories fade, books are forever, until they’re not / Glenn Stewart

Click the image of the book cover of Maus by Art Spiegelman to access the author sharing the story behind the book on NPR

February 13, 2022 Glenn Stewart

The price we pay for a world where information from one human to another flows freely may be that some foul language and lascivious behavior is part of the lexicon.  So be it.  And if that were all that mattered, the discussion about banning books would be over.  

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No room at the inn: current homeless strategies in Whatcom County / Noisy Waters Northwest

February 13, 2022 Dena Jensen

What’s encouraging

Three years have passed since the City of Bellingham and Whatcom County governments held a joint discussion that broached the subject of advance planning for severe weather shelters without action being taken to do so. But on Tuesday, February 8, 2022, Whatcom County Council finally authorized an interlocal agreement between the two government bodies to provide winter shelters during severe weather emergencies.

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Calling for more sheltering and services and less policing / Letter to Mayor Fleetwood and the Bellingham City Council

Click the image of two unmasked security officers in black jackets walking together in downtown Bellingham’s commercial district to access the Cascadia Daily News article, “Bellingham hires security to patrol downtown”

February 3, 2022 Dena Jensen

Sent: Thursday, February 3, 2022, 01:11:02 PM PST

Subject: Calling for more sheltering and services and less policing

Dear Mayor Fleetwood and Bellingham City Council:

I don’t know what question was asked by the reporter or what the exact statement was that Mayor Fleetwood made, but the following acknowledgement of the mayor’s that was highlighted in the February 2, 2022 Cascadia Daily article,  “Bellingham hires security to patrol downtown,”

(https://www.cascadiadaily.com/news/2022/feb/02/bellingham-hires-security-to-patrol-downtown/) is a position that I imagine a lot of community members are getting a strong sense of through the supporting actions that are described throughout the article:

“Fleetwood acknowledged that part of the security team’s job is to reduce the visible population of homeless people in the city’s commercial areas.”

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