After a 33-year long career with the Bellingham Police Department, Lt. Bob Vander Yacht is retiring on November 30th, 2018. Bob was born and raised in Whatcom County and after graduating from Mount Baker High School he worked in the logging industry. When he decided on a career in law enforcement, he enrolled at Skagit Valley College and then transferred to Western Washington University to complete his bachelor's degree. Early in 2017 Bob attended the FBI National Academy, a 10-week leadership course in Quantico Virginia.
Bob began his career with BPD in 1984 as a reserve officer, getting hired in October of 1985 as a full-time officer. Over the course of his career Bob served in several roles: K-9 handler, K-9 Unit Trainer, Field Training Officer, Master Patrol Officer, Training Officer and Range Officer. Bob served on specialty teams as a Precision Marksman on SWAT and as a Bomb Technician with our Hazardous Devices Unit. He was promoted to the rank of Sergeant in January of 2007 and then to Lieutenant in July of 2011. As a Lieutenant, Bob served for three years as the Public Information Officer and closed out his career leading the Community Outreach Program.
Bob had a great interest in interagency collaboration, spending many years as an operator with S.E.R.P., our local Hazmat Team. As a member of the Northwest Washington Incident Management Team (NWIMT) Bob responded to significant regional incidents such as the tragic Oso Landslide and the Cascade Mall Active Shooter incident. Bob also served as the interim Emergency Manager for the city of Bellingham, from March until October of this year.
Over the years Bob worked with the Campus Community Coalition which promotes positive relationships and communication between WWU college students and the community. He frequently participated in fundraising events for Special Olympics, and the annual Shop-With-Your-Cop event.
About the past 33 years Bob said “my career with Bellingham PD has truly been a blessing. I take great pride in knowing that our agency is an industry leader in training and innovation. I am thankful to have worked with amazing people who truly care. Part of the challenge of police work is the unknown. The job is inherently dangerous as officers engage with people who are at the peak of crisis. I bow down to our officers who respond to these unknowns with great courage, patience and compassion.”
We thank Bob for his service and wish him well in retirement.