Category: Special Over 40,000 Population Winner or Honorable Mention: Title of the Project: Bellingham, WA Police Dept. Community Policing Extended Outreach Program City: City of Bellingham Population: Name: Todd Ramsay Title: Lieutenant Phone: (360) 676-6593 SUBJ: MUNICIPAL ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS 2000, Entry BELLINGHAM WASHINGTON POLICE DEPARTMENT COMMUNITY POLICING EXTENDED OUTREACH PROGRAM The Bellingham Police Department currently employs 107 commissioned officers and is committed to the philosophy of community policing. The cooperative effort between our police officers and citizens is fostered by a leadership approach of establishing an atmosphere of close contact within our community. The success of our problem solving- partnership is based on an on-going effort to promote an informed, organized and involved community voice. Bellingham, Washington is a growing and changing community of approximately 60,000 citizen. The unique diversity changes taking place throughout the United States offer all our communities a valuable opportunity to benefit. It is our police department's goal to promote opportunities for representation and participation for all our citizens! To that end, in 1998 we created our "Extended Outreach Program." (See enclosed 8 1/2x 11 color promotional photos) Recent population growth projections have revealed a tremendous growth in ethnic minorities. For Bellingham this included a threefold increase in Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Russian/Ukrainian citizens. Bellingham is also located next to the Lummi and Nooksack Indian Nation Reservations. Our Extended Outreach Program objective is to encourage participation from all the diverse segments of the community in addressing their needs and concerns. As a police department it is our community philosophy that ... understanding, working together and supporting one another to build a community enhances the quality of life for all our citizens. This is an unparalleled opportunity for Bellingham because of its wide variety of cultural, religious, and ethnic groups. The cornerstone of our Extended Outreach Program is the commitment from individual volunteer "outreach officers," to promote involvement by all segments of our community. Each outreach officer first made a concerted effort to identify the different ethnic segments of our community, then develop and maintain that relationship. This included attending a wide variety of community meetings and events. Regular participation included such events as The Bellingham Herald Cultural Diversity Fairs, Whatcom Hispanic Organization Scholarship and Benito Juarez Award ceremonies and meetings, Northern Puget Sound NAACP meetings, Department of Health & Social Services Information Fairs, SEA MAR Community Health Center/Bellingham School District Family Resource-Annual Feria De La Amistad community resources Program, and an established outreach relationship with the Bellingham School District English Second Language (ESQ program representatives. (See Diversity Fair Attachment: #1) Another resource for our officers, is the fact that Bellingham is the home of Western Washington University and Whatcom Community College. Both of these institutions offer our outreach officers an excellent avenue for promoting a sense of community and involvement. For example, some of our officers were involved in the development of a Whatcom Community College welcoming video presentation (appropriate languages) for foreign students. (An information sheet on the video is at attachment: #2) Additionally, by way for a federal grant and in partnership with a local television station we are developing a "Bellingham Police Department Video" for use in public talks. Initially it will be create it in English, Spanish and Russian language versions. We are also in the process of adding the Extended Outreach Program to our Bellingham Police Department Web page. It will tentatively be structured with a title page containing an overview of the program, with subsequent pages for each outreach group, focusing on and articulating our community partnership initiative. An exciting aspect of all these opportunities is that each "outreach officer" recognizes their responsibility, not only as police officers but as "representatives of our ethnic families." A basic success principle in our community oriented policing approach is empowering officers at the lowest echelon of the organizational structure. It is a refreshing validation that this approach works ... as the idea of reaching out to the minority segments of our community originated as "an idea of our officers on the street." We readily recognize that our lieutenants and sergeants hold key leadership positions in our department, as such, they are represented as volunteer outreach officers as well. We have a sergeant responsible as the program coordinator and one or more volunteer officers assigned to each minority segment of our community (A listing of our outreach officers is at attachment: #3) Volunteer outreach officers are given wide latitude in developing their community contacts during their normal work hours. When participating in public talks or other events, not scheduled during normal duty time, the officers are paid overtime. When evaluating the cost to benefit factor the cost is considered to be overall minimal in comparison to the value. Outreach officers in turn compile a general file of citizens/organizations contacted and a brief information summary of the contacts by way of our automated report writing system. This is accomplished by completing a formatted community oriented policing information report. This aspect of the program is vital in that it provides outreach officers with the opportunity to document their efforts. Additionally, it provides the mechanism for new outreach officers to review the progress already made. Copies of the reports are provided to the program coordinators for information purposes by annotating the report as "copy to." (A sample copy of the formatted report form is attachment: #4) to this entry. Our police department currently has outreach officers for the following richly diverse segments of our community. Hispanic/Latino African-American Russian[Ukrainian Asian Native American East Indian Jewish Gay/Lesbian Our Outreach Officers are provided with business cards identifying themselves as contacts. An example of one of our business cards is attachment to this entry (see attachment: #5). Anytime a citizen or ethnic group has a question that may involve a specific culture or group our outreach officers are provided with the inquiry and follow up by contacting the citizen. With the advent of the rapidly changing diversity in our community we find that in some instances new citizens from other ethnic backgrounds are hesitant and unfamiliar with community policing. As a result, they may be hesitant to complain when they are not satisfied with police service or on the other hand are unfamiliar with the fact that they can express their appreciation for the service provided. To encourage this discourse we have, for example, developed complaint/commendation forms. (A copy of a Spanish version of one of our forms is at attachment: #6) As part of our Extended Outreach Program we also re-created our Community Police Services Pamphlet to reflect our community policing philosophy message of "inclusion, participation and representation." Entitled "A Community In Partnership ... Strengthened By Its Diversity," it reflects our commitment to our community. Each page contains an interactive photograph with a stimulating message or expression. For example "Our Strength Comes From Our Diversity and Many Points of View," and "A Future Rich in Diversity and Community Involvement." (A copy of the pamphlet is enclosed) Cultural sensitive officers are an important part of promoting an informed and involved community voice. As part of this initiative our goal is to raise awareness and sensitivity levels when dealing with people whose experiences may be unlike our own. As a part of each officer's on going professional development we have invited community leaders to speak to our officers. For example, we had the opportunity of having the president of the Whatcom Hispanic Organization speak to our intermediate supervisors during a meeting. Recently, during in-service training our officers participated in training on cultural diversity. In conjunction with the training each officer was issued a "Culturgram." A Culturgram is a two-volume reference that provides information on: daily customs, lifestyles, political systems and economic structure of 174 countries. It is our view that their availability offers our officers a greater opportunity to understand their community and reflect or gain added insight of a particular incident involving a specific culture. The resource references were obtained through a federal grant at no cost to our department. (A copy of the cover page and forward are at attachment: #7) Our "Extended Outreach Program," has been immeasurable in the benefits to our community of Bellingham. As an ongoing process this initiative has unequivocally contributed to our community being a positive and safer place to live. An accurate measure of the impact of our outreach officers in our community is best reflected in the comments from our citizens. During a recent Police Community Interaction Council meeting one citizen leader made the comment "it is refreshing to see that anyone of our citizens is able to approach and speak to a Bellingham police officer and feel comfortable about it." As a police department our goal is that every officer view themselves as a community outreach officer ... we are well on our way! The cost of our Extended Outreach Program is quantified not so much in dollars but more appropriately in our commitment to our community.