On Saturday, February 11, 2017, a group of protestors blocked the northbound lanes of Interstate 5 for approximately one hour, resulting in response from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Bellingham Police Department.
When the protestors stopped traffic on Interstate 5 using cars and human blockades, Washington State Patrol requested that the Bellingham Police Department respond. Bellingham Police provided a limited response to the incident, and were, during the same time, responsible for 911 calls for service within the City of Bellingham that included two incidents that took place at a gathering of approximately 300 people at Planned Parenthood.
A multiple car collision on Interstate 5 occurred around 1:25 p.m. and the state patrol requested mutual aid from the Bellingham Police Department to respond to the rollover collision, as their troopers were busy handling the protest. Bellingham Police answered the mutual aid request and handled the collision. Bellingham Police also authorized additional resources to help to re-route Interstate traffic as needed, however, the protestors cleared the roadway around 1:30 p.m.
“The Bellingham Police Department appreciates the partnerships we share with outside agencies. We have a long-standing history of helping each other in times of need, and we will continue to do so,” said Deputy Chief Dave Doll. “Unfortunately, we did not have the resources to handle this incident for the Washington State Patrol. “
Mayor Kelli Linville stated, “I appreciate the professionalism of the Bellingham Police Department in responding to this event. Bellingham Police has long exhibited principles of good policing in response to charged situations. This particular situation was dynamic and challenging and we will continue to partner with other local jurisdictions to best serve and protect the safety of our community, as well as the right to free speech.”