Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

The Bellingham Herald reported that Whatcom County has recently faced a harsh gang reality. Since 2007, the county’s gang violence has risen nearly 34 percent:

Gang activity is steadily rising here, according to the Whatcom County Sheriff's Office.  Roughly 38 gangs operate in Whatcom County, with a total of 350 to 450 members, up from 150 to 250 known members in 2007. Their crimes range from auto theft to murder  and many of the gangs are involved in drug trafficking and dealing.

Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo suggested that one of their greatest obstacles to tackling the gang problem is the lack of resources allotted to the various agencies, proposing that adoption of the AGO’s gang legislation would be a “valuable tool” in this fight:

The bill would establish a grant program for gang prevention and increase prison  sentences for gang-related offenses. It also would give law enforcement a new weapon -  the ability to issue protection orders prohibiting gang members from taking part in gang- related offenses as well as closing down housing where gang crime is known to occur.

Furthermore, a recent Bellingham Herald editorial offered additional support for this bill:

We urge our legislators to support McKenna's plan. The state of Washington has much  more severe gang problems than many citizens want to admit. Gang activity seems to be  highest in places like Yakima County and the Tacoma area. But it is naive for any  Whatcom County resident to think that there are not active gangs in our community right  now.

To learn more about this gang legislation, check out our bill

-Jennifer Carr-