Tell Bellingham Elected Officials: Police Accountability is Non-Negotiable!

Let Mayor Fleetwood and City Council know we can no longer afford police union contracts negotiated in the dark that block fairness, accountability, and justice. 

Source:
Justice System Committee

Description:
Bellingham officials will start renegotiating the 2022 police union contracts in early 2021. Complete these actions to effect change: 

  1. Contact the Mayor and City Council using the suggested script below to call on them to remove current police contract provisions that block accountability.
  2. Sign-on to this letter calling on the Mayor and City Council to take action. 

Background:
Cities across the country have identified the central role police union contracts play in obstructing racial justice and police accountability. Stipulations in contracts regarding misconduct can skew the process in officers’ favor, thwart justice for victims, and tie a city’s hands in firing officers who have betrayed the public’s trust. 

Bellingham’s police union contracts have these exact problems. The current contract language will expire December 31, 2021. We have an opportunity to demand the Mayor (who negotiates the contracts) and the City Council (who approves the contracts) enact some long overdue reforms.

Contact info:
Seth Fleetwood (Mayor) – (360) 778-8100 / mayorsoffice@cob.org  
Hannah Stone (1st Ward) – (360) 778-8211 / hestone@cob.org
Gene Knutson (2nd Ward)  – (360) 733-1640 / gknutson@cob.org 
Daniel Hammill (3rd Ward) l – (360) 778-8213 / dchammill@cob.org 
Pinky Vargas (4th Ward)  – (360) 778-8210 / ptmvargas@cob.org 
Lisa Anderson (5th Ward) – (360) 778-8217 / laanderson@cob.org 
Michael Lilliquist (6th Ward) – (360) 778-8212 / mlilliquist@cob.org​ 
Hollie Huthman (At-Large) – (360) 778-8216 / hahuthman@cob.org 

Suggested script:
Dear Mayor Fleetwood and City Council Members,

When the City of Bellingham renegotiates the 2022 collective bargaining agreements (CBA) with the Bellingham Police Guild and Fraternal Order of Police, you have a rare opportunity to take meaningful action to improve police accountability in our community. That’s why I’m calling on you to ensure that the new collective bargaining agreements include critical provisions for better police accountability in Bellingham. In the new collective bargaining agreement, I urge you to negotiate contract that

[Choose at least 2 of the following]

  • Eliminate any provisions removing written reprimands (including their descriptions) or other evidence of misconduct from personnel files.
  • Remove any language delaying a written statement or interrogations when law enforcement employees are investigated.
  • End the process of providing copies of investigation-related documents (including transcripts of the interview) to those that are under investigation.
  • Ensure elected officials or boards accountable to the public have the final say in arbitration (i.e. make arbitration decisions nonbinding).

Negotiating for these changes in the CBA will demonstrate to the people of Bellingham that your administration takes police accountability and public safety seriously. This is a critical moment in our history, and I’m counting on you to fight for justice and accountability at the negotiating table. 

Sincerely,

 

Additional info:
Reforming Bellingham’s Police Union Contracts: Accountability and Liability, by the Riveters Collective Justice System Committee