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Bellingham Police Chief orders outside review after third officer in 3 years arrested for assaultive behavior
March 03, 2018

Chronicle Staff

(BELLINGHAM, WA.) – In a news release posted Friday on the Bellingham Police website titled “A message to our Community, Police Chief David Doll said, “The recent arrests of two of our officers, and one that occurred two years ago, has put focus on our department. As a result, we have found ourselves faced with very serious situations that we believe compel crucial conversations and communication.”

Chief Doll added, “This includes partnering with social service agencies to ensure our organizational practices are “best practices" in dealing with allegations of domestic violence, and requesting outside agencies facilitate objective reviews of the events that occurred to help us determine organizational sanctions for those involved. We take these steps to promote transparency and to maintain the community trust we have built.”

The Bellingham Herald newspaper noted the Chief’s order for that outside review comes after, “A third Bellingham Police officer was arrested in just as many years for alleged assaultive behavior.”

Doll wants the outside agency to take a look at all the events that led to the officers’ arrests to assist the department in determiing possible punishments for those officers.

“We have worked hard to build an intentional ethical culture in the Bellingham Police Department,” wrote Chief Doll. “We care deeply, and honor the trust that is bestowed upon us by our community acknowledging that this trust is fragile and easily broken. When one of our own acts in a way that is contrary to our culture, it affects us all.  In our efforts to safeguard this trust, we commit to transparent processes to assure our community that we hold our employees accountable for their actions, whether committed on or off duty.”

The Chief adds that his department will continue to cooperate with the investigations of the recent actions of its employees and that the department is “committed to learn from adversity and will be made better by the experience.  We will continue to serve our community with pride and compassion because this is the fabric of who we are.”

The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office has been chosen as the agency to do the internal investigations, which are already underway.

The arrests

According to the Herald newspaper :

February 10: Police Cpl. Brooks Owen Laughlin, 33, of Everson, WA was arrested on suspicion of first-degree criminal trespassing (domestic violence). At mid moring that day Laughlin reportedly went to a home in the 3700 block of Clearbrook Road near Sumas, WA where he was later arrested. The Herald says according to records it obtained, Laughlin “had been in a domestic dispute the day prior with a woman who said Laughlin threatened to shoot her in the face.” The repport says Lughline was on duty at the time of the alleged threat. Laughlin, a 13 year employee, was off duty when arrested. Laughlin is on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation.

October 18, 2017: Bellingham Police officer Sukhdev Singh Dhaliwal, 31, and his brother allegedly beat up two men, one aged 19, the other age 20 and “made threats to kil,” according to the newspaper report outside a Blaine, WA business in October. Dhaliwal is currently on leave. The alleged beating of the 19-year old reportedlty had to do with that man dating Sukhdev Dhaliwal’s sister, said the newspaper report. The 19-year old was badly injured through punches and kicks to the face, said the report.

Fall 2016: In the fall of 2016, Bellingham Police officer Jacob Esparza, 35, of Lynden, WA who at that time was “already on the brink of losing his job on accusations of misconduct when he was arrested on new charges of domestic violence,” was fired after the arrest according to the newspaper report. The newspaper reported in January 2017 that disciplinary letters from then Bellingham police Chief Clifford Cook recountted “three off-duty fights – one at a bar, two at home – in which Officer Jacob Esparza is said to have lied about what happened, destroyed evidence and, in the chief’s opinion, persuaded a possible domestic violence victim to recant so he could save his job.”



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