For decades, people mistreated by police have called for reform that includes, at a minimum, holding officers accountable. Over the past year, the Riveters’ Justice System Committee (JSC) has supported these efforts by contacting government officials, advocating for improvements to police union contracts, and supporting legislative bills.
To better understand the current state of police accountability within Whatcom County, the JSC obtained officer-related complaint records from Bellingham, Blaine, and Ferndale, and lawsuit settlement information from Bellingham, Blaine, Everson, Ferndale, Lynden, and Whatcom County. A review of these documents provides insight into how complaints are investigated, the degree to which officers are held accountable, and the cost to local governments when the public feels harmed by police conduct.
In a series of posts, we’ll describe how BPD handled a traffic stop and racial-profiling complaint that led to Bellingham recently paying a $100,000 settlement, how much police-related lawsuit settlements cost local governments, and what police complaint records can tell us. We’ll also share recommendations for better policing from national organizations.
***CLICK ON EACH PART TO EXPAND DETAILS***
Part 1: Investigating a complaint against an officer
Part 2: Tracking police officer complaints
Part 3: Costs of police-related lawsuit settlements