Bellingham is a city of active,
engaged neighborhoods, among the many attractive qualities about Bellingham
that inspired me to be your Police Chief. Bellingham residents' connections
to their neighborhoods and the city government’s commitment to engaging with
them makes our city ideal for solving problems through community policing
If you are unfamiliar with community policing it is best described as
local police departments working together with residents, neighborhoods,
businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations and others to
prevent crime and promote community safety. Community policing has been the
organizational philosophy of the Bellingham Police Department for many
years, and we intend to expand our efforts in the months ahead.
Community policing has been particularly successful in areas with strong
community connections and problem-solving systems. Bellingham has many such
resources in place, among the most important being the active organization
and advocacy of our 25 neighborhood associations. I am making it a personal
priority to meet with each neighborhood association during my first few
months on the job. Since I started on February 4, I have already had the
pleasure of attending meetings of two neighborhood associations and I expect
to attend many more in the weeks ahead. I also am scheduled to participate
in the March 20 meeting of the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission
Bellingham Police Department works very closely with neighborhood
organizations and in recent years has had in place an innovative community
policing/problem solving unit: the Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team.
Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team
Typically, neighborhood residents are most
aware of what goes on in their area and are our “eyes and ears” when it
comes to crime prevention and enforcement. The Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team
partners with residents to address neighborhood-related issues, find lasting
solutions to problems, and make our neighborhoods safer, more comfortable
and pleasant places to live.
Formed in 2009, the Neighborhood Anti-Crime
Team is a proactive investigations unit charged with preventing, targeting
and suppressing crimes through the use of focused enforcement to address
crime trends, apprehend repeat offenders and lead the efforts in
neighborhood problem solving.
The team uses a variety of techniques,
including preventing crime through environmental design, uniformed and
plain-clothes officers, bicycle, foot and car patrols, surveillance and the
use of information gained from criminal intelligence and crime analysis. A
few of the common problems the team tackles include gang activity, drug
transactions, vehicle prowls, residential burglaries, disruptive
party-houses, mail theft and graffiti.
The Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team
works closely with community members and in particular with neighborhood
association representatives and Block Watch participants to develop
effective solutions to local quality of life issues. When problems are
identified, team members reach out to other units within the Police
Department, other city services and to other organizations, groups and
community members who possess the expertise, staffing, equipment and
appropriate resources to assist in their efforts.
We have had many successes since the Neighborhood Anti-Crime
Team began. During the last six months of 2012, for example, more than 600
felony and misdemeanor charges were filed by Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team
personnel. Here are a few examples of the work of this team:
the team’s first months, two individuals were arrested for possession of
heroin and we were able to link those individuals to 11 local burglaries.
- The team investigated a neighborhood theft ring that resulted in
the seizure of 10 firearms, including several assault rifles, ammunition, ½
pound of heroin, ecstasy and nearly $12,000 in cash. Stolen property was
also recovered at a suspect’s residence.
- The team’s work on mail
theft last year resulted in the arrest, successful conviction and sentencing
of two people found to have extensive stolen mail at their residence.
Originally discovered during the course of searching a burglary suspect’s
apartment, the mail theft investigation resulted in the team contacting more
than 240 mail theft victims and a similar number of charges against the
suspects, who ultimately were held accountable for their actions.
- A current project involves collaborating with property owners to clean-up
and secure neglected properties rather than have them remain empty and
potential nuisances. The property owners have been contacted and asked to
repair broken windows and doors, remove dilapidated structures, make
exterior repairs and secure the properties from intruders in an effort to
eliminate illegal activities.
- We also are currently working with a
neighborhood experiencing criminal activity and disorderly behavior at bus
stops. Recent problems have included drinking, urinating and unwelcome,
inappropriate conduct, which then continues onto the buses. The team was
assigned to work with neighbors, area businesses, transit officials and
others to address the problem. Responses included uniformed officers riding
the bus route periodically so riders would feel safe. Drinking problems were
actively addressed and have diminished substantially. The transit authority
is currently re-designing the stops to increase visibility and customer
safety. We expect these and other measures taken by our community partners
will result in another success story, for both the team and our community.
These are just a few of the many successes of the Bellingham Police
Department Neighborhood Anti-Crime Team. For more information or to report
concerns in your neighborhood, contact the Bellingham Police Department at
Honored to lead Bellingham Police Department
Anti-Crime Team is one of the many ways we serve our community with
innovation and excellence. It is just one of the many success stories I
have discovered in my short time here. The Bellingham Police Department is
recognized across the region and state as a premier public safety
organization and I am experiencing that first hand every day. I am also very
impressed with the expertise, commitment and caring attitude demonstrated by
the members of our department as they go about the business of serving this
community. This is a great department and a great city with a lot to be
proud of, and I am honored and humbled to serve as your Chief of Police.
Bellingham Police Chief Cliff Cook recently was appointed by Mayor Kelli
Linville. He took his oath of office and began his duties on February 4,