Addressing public safety needs

By Mayor Seth Fleetwood

(Originally appeared in Inside Bellingham newsletter, Fall 2022)

Like so many organizations locally and across the country, our City is experiencing staffing shortages. We have especially critical needs for police officers and law enforcement dispatchers.

Joining the City as an officer or dispatcher means being a part of a team of highly trained, capable, compassionate professionals whose commitment to community shines every day. We have the best police department in the state and I am proud of those who have dedicated their careers to this noble profession.

Please help us spread the word that the City is hiring for these positions and many others.

While we address law enforcement staffing shortages, we’ve prioritized responses to 9-1-1 calls so that threats to public safety and crime investigations are the first priority. We’ve also added online tools to accept non-emergency reports so that property and other non-violent crimes are addressed.

Staffing shortages, an inadequate jail, court backlogs, legislative changes and other factors contribute to community members expressing concerns about safety. I assure you we are working diligently to address these concerns, including:

  • Targeted, effective employee recruiting and retention strategies.
  • Filling vacancies, funding new positions and committing to funding more when those are filled
  • Supplementing law enforcement services with: new community service officers, downtown safety ambassadors and downtown security patrols; litter, graffiti and junk vehicle removal programs; and other initiatives that allow police personnel to focus on law enforcement.
  • Collaborating with partners on unique approaches to address complex problems in certain locations.
  • Alternative response systems to help people in need, providing appropriate aid to people experiencing extreme poverty, substance abuse issues, mental health crises, and other special needs.
  • Active efforts to reduce incarceration, identify reforms and other strategies to reduce the jail population.

We welcome your perspective as we address these and other complex issues. Throughout our organization, dedicated and talented employees are delivering quality public services and stepping up every day to address the challenges and opportunities of our growing community. Together with our active, engaged residents, we’re doing the important work of building a sustainable, equitable and thriving city.