Thursday, December 20, 2012

December 11 Event on Mental Illness: Take Aways and Recommendations

On December 11, 2012, Islanders for Collaborative Policing hosted a community conversation on policing and mental illness. Police officers, mental health professionals, advocates for the mentally ill, and a representative from the Bainbridge Island School District (among others) sat around a table and exchanged views. There were no theatrics. There were no confrontations. There was, instead, a shared sense of purpose, and several common themes expressed. Click here for our memo describing the event, and our follow up recommendations.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

December Event on Policing and Mental Illness

Islanders for Collaborative Policing will sponsor a roundtable conversation on Tuesday December 11, about policing and mental illness. The public is welcome to attend. 

The purpose of the event is to consider (1) the prevalence of mental illness in our community and (2) best practices about interacting with the mentally ill that are being used by law enforcement agencies. Four representatives from law enforcement will be on hand to talk about policing strategies (including two Lieutenants from the BIPD) along with the statewide coordinator for crisis intervention training at the State Criminal Justice Training Commission. The Executive Director of Kitsap County Mental Health Services will be on our panel, along with the Director of Health for the County Health District, National Alliance for Mental Illness representatives, and the head of Educational Support Services for the Bainbridge School District. This will be a rather remarkable opportunity, we think, to form some new partnerships and engage in creative thinking. 

The roundtable will be held at Bethany Lutheran Church on Bainbridge Island (7968 Finch Road NE). The program starts at 6pm and ends at 7:30--and, from 7:30 to 8pm, you'll have the opportunity to meet our panelists and engage in informal conversation.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Questions for the City Manager Candidates

Within the next few weeks, Bainbridge Island councilmembers will be choosing a new city manager who, in turn, will be choosing a new police chief. Click here for ten questions, from the ICP Board, to the final candidates. 

Update September 19: City Council unanimously picks Doug Schulze for new city manager. In Mr. Schulze's application, he refers to his interest in promoting open and transparent government and--more particularly--his efforts to create a professional and respected police department in Medina. Welcome aboard, Mr. Schulze. We look forward to working with you.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


ICP invited island residents in the spring of 2012 to meet and discuss policing issues. In response to an evident groundswell of concern, a citizen committee was formed, open to all islanders. Despite differences of opinion, we shared a single main objective: to improve the relationship of Bainbridge Island residents to their Police Department.  We are less interested in prior police practices and incidents than in how the Department operates in the future. Our goal is a city that takes pride in its police department, with residents who trust and respect the officers who are our neighbors and who serve our community.

The report is the result of our deliberations.  It contains seven recommendations for action, summarized as follows:

1. Our City and Police Department should publicly commit to genuine collaborative policing, a style of law enforcement that sees community members as active participants in policing and draws its legitimacy from the support of citizens. It envisions policing as a partnership between community residents and officers, as opposed to a “top down” relationship where residents passively receive policing services.
2.     The BIPD should establish clear goals and objectives, and should communicate these in a strategic plan to the community.

3. The BIPD should adopt two initiatives for improving police response to situations involving mental illness: increased/enhanced crisis intervention training and creating a crisis intervention team to assist officers in the field.

4.    The BIPD should share information about crime/public safety with the public and City Council on a regular basis.

5. The BIPD, City Manager, and City Council should support an independent intake/advisory board that receives citizen and officer concerns.  We’ve developed a proposed structure and operating principles for further development and will be happy to share these with you. 

6.     The BIPD should adopt initiatives that enhance youth/officer relations. More specifically, we recommend that the Department re-establish a School Resource Officer and establish a high school student ride-along program.

7.     The BIPD should maximize positive interactions in the community by emphasizing foot and bike patrol. 

We are releasing our recommendations today to city officials, the press, and residents. We hope this document inspires specific changes at the BIPD, and a cultural change toward collaborative policing. We also hope it marks the beginning of a new, and positive relationship between island residents and the BIPD. 

We will communicate again to the community in 30 days on movement and changes made to date in response to our report. We look forward to sharing good news.

Click here for the full report

Click here for the BIPD response

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guild to Chief: No Confidence

On June 11, the Bainbridge Island Police Guild publicly announced "no confidence" in Chief Jon Fehlman. In a 29-page letter delivered to the Mayor, the Guild calls for the Chief's resignation, citing his "poor executive leadership, indifference, lack of integrity, and poor policy decisions." The ICP Policing Committee released the following statement on June 19:

Islanders for Collaborative Policing (“ICP”) was formed in 2011 to promote a better relationship between Bainbridge Island residents and their police department. It organized a citizen’s committee with the goal of proposing policies to foster collaboration and build trust between the community and the BIPD.

We, the ICP citizen’s committee, take note of the Police Guild’s recent vote of “no confidence” in Police Chief John Fehlman, and its June 11 letter to City Council urging the Chief’s removal from office. We neither support nor oppose the call for Chief Fehlman's termination. Nor are we in a position to verify the Guild’s list of asserted failings. We do, however, endorse the following general propositions: 

First, BIPD must build a collaborative relationship with all island residents. The Chief’s practice of speaking only to friendly audiences and/or his refusal to speak to some community groups would, if true, represent a big part of the problem impairing BIPD's relationship with the Bainbridge community. If this is an accurate portrayal of the Chief’s attitude, it must be corrected. 

Second, BIPD should have a strategic plan, or — at the very least — definitive goals and priorities that are communicated to both Island residents and City officials. According to the Guild's letter, the Chief has no short-­‐ or long-­‐term plan for the Department, and does not meet (or even communicate) with supervisory staff to establish objectives. If so, this too calls for corrective measures. 

Lastly, the Chief — like all members of the BIPD — must take laws, rules, and policies seriously. We agree that all public servants should be held accountable for improper or illegal actions, especially those substantially impairing their job performance and other public interests. If the City's investigation corroborates the Guild's charges, and if those findings indicate a substantial breach by Chief Fehlman of the law, the rules governing his employment, his performance expectations, or the terms of his contract, we urge the City to take all reasonable and lawful steps to remedy that misconduct. 

We applaud the Guild for taking a public stand and insisting on ethical, collaborative, and competent leadership. The ICP citizen’s committee shares these goals, and looks forward to working with the BIPD and City to achieve them.

update, September 11: Bainbridge Chief Resigns Post

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Update on Committee Efforts, May 2012

The ICP policy committee is up and running, and we are proud to announce the appointment of Kent Bridwell as chair and John Hays as spokesperson. A full list of members and our operating rules are available here. We'll post our meeting minutes on this blog so you can follow our progress (see the "committee material" link to the right). The committee goal is to have a short set of policy recommendations by the end of August 2012.

Our committee is open to anyone who lives on Bainbridge or works for the BIPD. Send an email to if you'd like to be notified of future meetings or--better yet--would like to participate.

We have subcommittees investigating citizen advisory panels, juvenile diversion programs, and officer training opportunities. We could use your input and expertise.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Call for Volunteers

As a follow up to our March 30 event, ICP seeks community volunteers to form a police policy committee. We're forming a dedicated group to identify key community/police problems and suggest ways to close the trust gap flagged by our recent survey. All Islanders welcome, but we'd especially appreciate the input of parents or those with policing or policy experience.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Survey Results Are In

The results of our policing survey were released today and community sentiment is unfavorable: less than a quarter of respondents have a positive impression of the Police Department and less than a fifth (18%) think officers are using their time appropriately.  69% of respondents do not trust the Department, either as a whole (48%) because of leadership (18%), or because of officers (3%). When asked what the most significant policing problem is on the Island, the most chosen answer was “problems with Department leadership.” Over half of respondents think the Department has gotten worse in recent years.

Despite these critical responses, respondents do not want to outsource police services. When asked if the Island should maintain its own department, or outsource services to the County, over half (51%) favor retention. 30% would like to contract out to Kitsap, and 19% have no opinion.

A few cautionary notes. This was not a scientific survey, but rather an attempt to get some sense of community sentiment. This gives us a clue of how the community views local policing, but does not represent a "final word." We hope it's the catalyst for more questions--and more BIPD collaboration.

View the detailed results here.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

We Meet Again: March 30, 5:00pm-6:30pm

The next ICP forum will be on Friday March 30, 5pm-6:30pm. We very much hope you'll join us. Our moderator is Trisha King-Stargel who teaches criminal justice at Seattle University and, until recently, was a member of the Tacoma police Citizen Review Panel. The meeting will include:

A discussion of community opinions of the PD
A discussion of Richard Packard's 2012 report: Crime on Bainbridge Island 1993-2010
Q and A with new BIPD Guild President Bob Day
Next steps: a discussion with two members of Poulsbo's Community Police Advisory Board to discuss their experience on a citizen/police panel

Location: Bainbridge Public Library. This event is not sponsored, endorsed, or approved by the library.

Link to agenda here.

Dr. Packard's report is available here. Click here for an executive summary.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

New Feature: Ideas from Other Places

The Bainbridge City Council has been woefully inactive on policing matters, despite widespread recognition that problems exist at the BIPD and the community wants to address them. We are obliged, by necessity, to seek ideas from other places. Fortunately, other places have city councilmembers that have thought quite a bit about community/police relations. With this post, ICP will start a new practice of highlighting policing ideas from other jurisdictions.

First up: a white paper from Seattle City Councilmember (and former Seattle police officer) Tim Burgess on "A New Policy for Policing." Many of his ideas are not relevant to our small city. Many of them are. Of particular interest:

-The importance of understanding crime statistics (and asking for the right statistics)
-What a culture of "inquiry and innovation" looks like in a police department
-The nexus between hiring, training, and high quality policing (and why today's officers need a new skill set than what's worked in the past)
-how civilian employees (and volunteers?) can enhance policing efforts

Link to the paper here

Friday, March 9, 2012

Let the questions, and answers, begin

The Seattle Times and Kitsap Sun have stories out about the COBI police department, and the stories are pretty grim: new revelations about the circumstances around the Doug Ostling shooting, indications of low hiring standards, the checkered pasts of several officers (past and present), and the failure of the Chief to provide the public--and county prosecutor--with information he is obliged to give. The community has questions, and rightfully so. But no one in city government has made a real effort to answer them. Collaboration can not happen without communication, and reform will not happen unless we face our problems squarely. Let the questions and answers begin.

Two Cops, an Axe, and Many Questions on Bainbridge
Police Force's Turmoil Unnerves Bainbridge Island Residents
In Officer's Testimony, Ostling Less of A Threat 

Community comments: John Hays
Inside Bainbridge Interview with Chief Fehlman March 8, 2012