Prosecuting Attorney's Office

A Message from Eric Richey

I have heard quite a few stories of brazen theft in our community, and I am deeply concerned about this problem.  Recent statistics of property crime, including auto theft, have been staggering.  I want you all to know that I care about property crime, and my office is working hard to address the issue.  
How we got here should not surprise anyone.

  • In 2021, the legislature created new laws making it difficult for law enforcement to investigate people or pursue those suspected of committing crime.   
  • At the same time, COVID caused booking restrictions so that many offenders had to be released back into the community instead of being held.
  • This was exacerbated by the fact that our jail cannot house or treat offenders appropriately.
  • COVID also suspended jury trials for more than a year, which ended any sort of accountability that might follow an arrest.

Due to these problems, people are typically released almost immediately for property crimes despite the community’s wishes or the prosecutor’s recommendations. Incarceration is not always the answer, but some form of accountability is necessary to change behavior.  People who were charged with crimes during the pandemic did not have to resolve their cases because there was no threat of trial.  All of these factors came together these past two years and emboldened criminals, who knew they probably wouldn’t be chased and caught, and, even if caught, wouldn’t face any accountability. 

But now this is changing.  Legislation in 2022 authorizes police to again use some traditional force, allowing more criminal investigations (I was disappointed that 2022 legislation fell short in expanding pursuit to serious non-violent offenses, because we need people to know that if they commit crime, police will pursue them).  While booking restrictions are still in place, trials have resumed, and having trials means that prosecutors will again be able to hold people accountable for the crimes they commit today and for the crimes they committed during the pandemic.  

With trials resuming, I can assure you that the Whatcom County Prosecutor’s Office will hold people accountable.  Public safety is my mandate and top priority, and, when we can hold people accountable again, crime rates will fall and public safety will improve.

If anyone would like to help with these issues, please contact your legislators and tell them that you would like police to be allowed to engage in pursuits for all crimes. Finally, get involved in the jail conversation.  We need a new facility.  Make your voice heard. 

If anyone has questions or concerns, please email me at erichey@co.whatcom.wa.us or call me on my cell phone at 360-410-6365. 

Thank you for your interest in our community. 

Eric Richey
Whatcom County Prosecutor