Updated to add Outreach Officer Webpage link.
The new name for the Neighborhood Police Officer position is Outreach Officer, as of January 28, 2020. Outreach is as valid today as in the 1990s when the Bellingham Police Department adopted the Community Policing as our organizational philosophy. This continues to be reflected in our department's mission statement – Committed to Community.
When the Bellingham Police Department Neighborhood Police Officer positions were created in 2015, their primary function was to act as liaisons between the department and neighborhood associations, businesses and other community stakeholders to collaboratively address issues around livability and quality of life in Bellingham. The position is constantly evolving, and the Neighborhood Officers are taking on additional tasks and responsibilities which reach well beyond their role in the neighborhoods. In 2020, a typical week for the Neighborhood Police Officers might involve attending a Neighborhood Association meeting, teaching an Active Shooter class at a local business, providing safety training for health care providers, giving a station tour for a Scout troop and speaking at a high school criminal justice class.
As we watch the position evolve in the past five years, it is clear the officers in this role have essentially outgrown the former title of Neighborhood Police Officer. In addition to not fully encompassing their wide-ranging duties, the term Neighborhood Police Officer can be confusing to citizens, who based on the current title, believe that these two officers are on patrol in their neighborhood and available to respond to 911 calls. In order to better represent the scope of the current position and various assignments with which these two officers are tasked, the title of “Neighborhood Police Officer” is officially being changed to “Outreach Officer.”
“Community Policing is the organizational philosophy of the Bellingham Police Department, and our Outreach Officers facilitate the three major elements of this philosophy: problem solving, community outreach and organizational change,” said Bellingham Police Chief David Doll.
Officers Jon Knutsen and Kat Dearborn are the current Outreach Officers for the Bellingham Police Department. Officer Knutsen has completed one year in the assignment and Officer Dearborn was selected in January of 2020 to be part of the team. They are both looking forward to continuing their service to the citizens of Bellingham in the coming years and work to develop the position further to match the needs of the community.
For more information regarding the Outreach Officers and how to contact them, please visit our webpage here.