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Whatcom Jail visitations suspended due to “a breakdown of the main elevators”

BELLINGHAM, Wash. — Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office announced today that Whatcom County Jail visitations have been suspended indefinitely due to “a breakdown of the main elevators, used to access and move offenders.”

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office is charged with staffing and operating the jail facilities.

An aging infrastructure coupled with outdated components has resulted in a breakdown of the main elevators. Whatcom County Facilities and vendors have been working to resolve this issue for three months. Due to the age and deteriorating nature of the system, jail management has implemented alternative options to maintain a safe environment and mitigate potential life safety challenges for both offenders and jail staff.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Bureau is also relocating eligible offenders to the Work Center, located at 2030 Division St, Bellingham, WA 98226. The online Jail Roster will be kept updated as offenders are relocated.

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“The current situation involving failed elevators is not just an inconvenience, it presents profound security and life-safety issues,” stated Bill Elfo, Sheriff. “Aside from being unable to carry out the day-to-day operations, we cannot adequately respond to the security and medical emergencies that so frequently occur within the facility. Utilizing fire escapes is not a viable or safe option. We are trying to mitigate the situation by reducing the jail population through an expansion of booking restrictions and where possible, transfers to other facilities. However, when we are forced to take such measures to meet security, health, and constitutional standards, the public suffers as people who should be in jail remain on the streets.”

As identified in the 2016 Design2 Last Final Assessment, the “original elevators have reached the end of their useful life…” (See Page 13, Item 12) Out of an abundance of caution, all visitation at the downtown jail is suspended indefinitely.

Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office press release (January 31, 2022)

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