As Whatcom County moves forward with the beginning phases of their Public Health and Public Safety Initiative regarding behavioral health services, incarceration, and justice reform needs in Whatcom County — discussed in a September 19, 2019 post here on Noisy Waters Northwest — I thought it would be good for us to have some historical background and a list of materials related to the County’s progress in addressing critical life safety renovations at the existing downtown Whatcom County Jail.
Below is the email I sent to members of the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force today regarding that event:
To: firstname.lastname@example.org <email@example.com> Cc: Barry Buchanan <firstname.lastname@example.org> Sent: Wednesday, September 25, 2019, 01:57:18 PM PDT Subject: Regarding the 9/23/19 Whatcom County Justice Updates event and addressing issues related to trust
Dear Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force Members:
I recently watched the video of the Whatcom County Justice Updates event that was held on Monday, September 23, 2019. I wanted to address the issue of trust that was one of the focuses of the meeting.
Here’s a quick recap of some key information regarding Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo who is seeking reelection this year.
Sheriff Elfo supported Minutemen in 2005
In 2005, Sheriff Bill Elfo affirmed his support of the Minutemen vigilante group, which had formed around that time and was associated with the Minuteman Civil Defense Corps. This was in response to publicity about people entering Arizona illegally. That year about 100 Minutemen volunteers were recruited here in Washington State.
I listened to the KGMI recording of the Whatcom Community Justice Forum today. There was a lot of good information presented, however it did seem rather like a giant campaign ad for Sheriff Elfo with a final plug for a new jail thrown in at the end. There was actually less focus on a new jail in the forum, though, than there was when Sheriff Elfo was on KGMI’s Saturday Morning Live radio broadcast last weekend.
County Council Member Rud Browne expressed the sentiment twice at the Whatcom County Council March 12, 2019 regular meeting during the Council committee reports segment near the end of the meeting. One exact quote was: “Yeah, so anyway, anyway, so, I just, 26,000 bucks a door is just a hard pill to swallow.”
I have written a couple posts now on the part of the January 15, 2019 meeting of Whatcom County Council’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee related to the Whatcom County Sheriff’s proposal to repeal and replace Whatcom County Code (WCC) 1.28 regarding correctional facility standards.
According to the documents supplied to the Council Members on the committee and the presentation given by Whatcom County Undersheriff Jeff Parks, the Title 289 Washington Administrative Code (WAC), which Whatcom County had adopted as WCC 1.28, had been deemed obsolete and was done away with in 2006.
I transcribed a portion of the presentation at the 1/15/18 Whatcom County Council Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee meeting given by Jeff Parks, Undersheriff, Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. The presentation was regarding an agenda item for the committee that I have discussed in a previous blog post.