Policies and Procedures

All Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office employees are guided in their duties by a system of policies and procedures. These policies and procedures are frequently reviewed and updated to remain compliant with new legislation and court rulings, as well as evolving industry standards and best practices.

In January of 2020, the Sheriff’s Office began transitioning to the Lexipol policy system. Lexipol provides over 160 law enforcement and 180 corrections policies that are researched, written, and updated by a team of subject matter experts and attorneys. Lexipol also offers daily training bulletins to help employees maintain proficiency with evolving policies.

The process for adopting Lexipol policies involves the review and editing of each policy by several workgroups including supervisors, managers, legal advisors, collective bargaining groups, and the Sheriff. Unfortunately, this process encountered some delays during the Covid-19 pandemic and the current staffing challenges at the Sheriff’s Office.

We continue to work through the review process and have prioritized the adoption of the corrections' policies. To view a tracking sheet that shows the status of each corrections policy, click here.

Once all corrections policies have been reviewed and adopted, the Corrections Bureau will transition to Lexipol, and we will begin the review of the law enforcement policies.  Until then, the policies listed below remain our current working policies.

Please note that some information has been redacted in accordance with RCW 42.56.

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Document Name Folder Revision Date Description Effective Date 
Access MisusePolicies9/28/2021
Administrative InvestigationsPolicies9/30/2021Guidelines for conducting administrative investigations11/17/2017
Awards and RecognitionPolicies12/30/2020Describes awards and other forms of recognition that may be given to employees, volunteers and citizens.12/10/2010
Bias-Based PolicingPolicies8/28/2013Prohibits bias-based policing.9/16/2011
BLEIS Operations ManualPolicies6/5/2015Procedures manual for law enforcement personnel. Will continue to shrink as new directives supersede its contents until it is ultimately canceled.6/5/2015
Body-Worn CamerasPolicies6/7/2021Describes guidelines for use of body-worn cameras and associated data and data storage systems3/31/2019
BWC Special Order 6.2.21Special Orders6/7/2021This Special Order contains procedural information that supports the deployment of body worn cameras under the Portable Audio-Video Recorders policy.6/7/2021
CaninesPolicies3/2/2015Establishes guidelines for the use of patrol and controlled substance detection canines.4/15/2011
Child Protective Custody And PlacementPolicies7/21/2015Provides deputies with guidelines on when to take children into protective custody and where to place them.7/19/2011
CJIS - Security Incident ReportingPolicies3/20/2019
Clearing and Study Codes Special OrderSpecial Orders1/20/2021Special Order regarding clearing calls.1/21/2021
Communication - Deaf or Blind PersonsPolicies12/1/2020This policy contains guidelines for Sheriff's Office personnel about communicating effectively with persons who are deaf or blind.8/27/2013
ComplaintsPolicies7/5/2018Guidelines about the acceptance and handling of complaints about Sheriff's Office practices and services, and member performance and conduct9/29/2017
Controlled Substance Training AidsPolicies3/6/2015Authorizes and sets guidelines for the use of controlled substance training aids.5/19/2014
Corrections Policy and Procedure ManualPolicies5/22/2015Originally issued July 1, 2002, and updated periodically since. Will continue to shrink as other policies supersede its contents until it is ultimately canceled.5/22/2015
Cover and Response Codes PolicyPolicies4/4/2019A policy regarding the cover and response tcodes for law enforcement personnel.3/5/2018
Criminal Fire InvestigationsPolicies3/5/2015Establishes the roles of Sheriff's Office personnel and fire marshals in conducting criminal fire investigations.2/19/2015
Criminal History Use And DisseminationPolicies9/28/2021
Criminal Street GangsPolicies12/16/2016Defines the criteria for designating criminal street gang members and associates, and sets guidelines for maintenance of street gang files.8/22/2011
Deadly Force Response InvestigationsPolicies3/29/2017Guidelines for criminal, administrative and civil investigations of incidents in which law enforcement personnel respond with deadly force12/15/2016
Directives SystemPolicies6/17/2013Describes the WCSO written directives system and establishes employee responsibilities within that system.6/17/2013
Disposal Of MediaPolicies1/10/2019
Domestic ViolencePolicies3/2/2015Sets guidelines for handling domestic violence incidents including assessing ongoing threats to victims and providing them appropriate assistance, preparing documentation and carrying out follow-up actions.12/19/2012
Dress CodePolicies11/22/2017Contains guidelines for clothing worn by non-uniformed personnel.9/25/2018
DUI & Physical Control - Arrests and BookingsSpecial Orders12/13/2013This order requires deputy sheriffs to arrest all persons who have committed crimes involving the use of alcohol or drugs while driving and corrections deputies to hold offenders in jail, in accordance with the contents of the order.12/13/2013
Employee DisciplinePolicies9/30/2021Describes the types and use of employee disciplinary actions11/29/2017
Employee Performance StandardsPolicies1/13/2020Policy establishing performance standards for all personnel12/16/2015
Employee Training RecordsSpecial Orders4/22/2016Establishes new flow for training record documentation into PowerDMS4/22/2016
Equipment - Duty KnivesPolicies10/20/2014Guidelines for commissioned personnel who choose to carry knives while on duty.11/12/2014
Evidence Storage - Vehicle BaysSpecial Orders4/2/2015Describes when deputies may use secure vehicle bays to store other types of evidence.4/2/2015
Force Option - Explosive BreachingPolicies10/31/2014Authorizes the use of explosive breaching by trained SRT personnel10/31/2014
Force Option - Noise-Flash Diversionary DevicesPolicies7/26/2021Authorizes the use of NFDDs by trained SRT personnel8/27/2014
Full Body ScannerSpecial Orders4/12/2018Defines the implementation and use of the full body scanner for the Corrections Bureau.4/12/2018
Immigration ViolationsPolicies8/27/2021Provides guidance to commissioned personnel with regards to where federal enforcement of immigration law fits in with Sheriff's Office missions.6/12/2014
Inmate ClassesPolicies11/6/2018
Inmate Religious ProgramsPolicies11/6/2018
Jail Population ManagementSpecial Orders12/14/2016Establishes guidelines for managing inmate population in the Whatcom County Jail7/12/2016
Kinetic Energy ProjectilesPolicies8/17/2021Authorizes the use of kinetic energy projectiles by commissioned personnel8/27/2014
Leadership TeamsPolicies10/30/2014Establishes and sets guidelines for bureau leadership teams10/30/2014
Medical Aid and ResponsePolicies10/1/2020Policy on providing medical care and transporting sick or injured individuals.10/1/2020
Missing PersonsPolicies7/21/2015Provides employees with guidelines on handling missing persons cases.7/19/2011
NaloxonePolicies8/25/2017Establishes guidelines for acquisition, distribution, replacement, training and administration of naloxone for use to reverse the effects of opioid overdose7/6/2017
NICS AppealsPolicies9/28/2021
Patrol OperationsPolicies11/14/2019General guidelines to facilitate teamwork in patrol operations1/23/2013
Peer Support Group CounselorsSpecial Orders6/22/2022Designates peer support group counselors and facilitates employee access to them6/22/2016
Personal AppearancePolicies10/24/2022Describes personal appearance standards for all Sheriff's Office employees, and uniformed and office volunteers10/11/2017
Physical Protection Of Criminal Justice InformationPolicies9/28/2021
Point Roberts Resident DeputiesSpecial Orders3/14/2016Describes Point Roberts resident deputies' work schedules and availability3/14/2016
Potential Impeachment InformationPolicies9/30/2021Describes the Sheriff's Office's role in ensuring the Prosecutor's Office fulfills its obligations to disclose exculpatory evidence to defendants.7/9/2014
Probable Cause ArrestsPolicies3/17/2016Establishes guidelines for probable cause arrests and related processes6/8/2015
Property Retention And Disposition.Policies9/10/2018
Protected InformationPolicies10/6/2022Policy related to the access, transmission, and release of protected information.10/6/2022
Re-Background InvestigationsPolicies1/10/2019
1/10/2019 Referring
Referring Suicidal Person To Mental Health FacilityPolicies2/1/2018This policy details the requirements of WCSO personnel to refer suicidal persons to mental health services.2/1/2018
Reporting Arrests & ConvictionsSpecial Orders7/29/2021
Rules and Regulations ManualPolicies10/11/2017Rules and Regulations Manual, originally issued January 6, 1999, and updated periodically since. Will continue to shrink as other policies supersede its contents until it is ultimately canceled.11/21/2014
Search And Seizure - PlacesPolicies9/29/2021Provides deputies with guidelines for conducting searches of places and seizing evidence8/12/2011
Special Assignments (BLEIS)Policies7/1/2010Establishes a competitive, impartial and practical process for the application and selection of law enforcement deputy sheriffs to special positions.7/1/2010
Special Order - Electronic Recording of InterrogationsSpecial Orders1/2/2022
Special Order - Offender Citizenship and Place of BirthSpecial Orders7/1/2022Special Order prohibiting corrections deputies from inquiring about an offender's place of birth or citizenship status during booking, and outlining procedures for Spillman data entry and consular notifications.7/1/2022
Special Order - Youth Access to AttorneySpecial Orders12/22/2021Requirements and procedures for providing juveniles access to an attorney as required by HB 1140.12/22/2021
Special Response UnitPolicies6/25/2015Governing policy for the Special Response Unit6/26/2015
UniformsPolicies9/29/2021Prescribes uniforms and associated standards for unformed personnel10/11/2017
Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS)Policies2/12/2018
Use of Force (Custody)Policies7/21/2021
Use of Force (LE)Policies3/10/2022Use of Force policy for certified peace officers.7/20/2021
ValidationsPolicies9/28/2021Validating NCIC/WACIC Entries2/5/2019
Vehicle PursuitsPolicies7/19/2021WCSO Vehicle Pursuit policy5/19/2014
WCSO Vision, Mission and ValuesSpecial Orders5/29/2014From Sheriff Elfo: As part of our recent assessment of the progress we have made towards improving our organization, we identified a need to refine and more clearly articulate specific expectations and standards relating to our mission. I want to thank the members of the organization who provided very valuable feedback that helped form the foundation for the revised mission statement. As we move forward, this revised mission statement and our existing values should guide the actions of all members of the Sheriff’s Office.5/29/2014