News Releases

Senator Murray Provides $1 Million to Support Whatcom County Border Prosecution and Law Enforcement Communication Projects

Jun 29 2007

$750, 000 will help fund "Fast Track" system to help reduce backlog of border related prosecutions $250,000 will be used to connect law enforcement information system to Canada and other U.S. jurisdictions

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray announced that she has included $1 million in funding to support Whatcom County in an annual Senate spending bill. The funding will go toward the county's Northern Border Rapid Prosecution Initiative ($750,000) and connecting the County's criminal offender tracking system to Canada and other U.S. jurisdictions ($250,000). The funding was included in the 2008 Senate Commerce, Justice, and Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. Senator Murray is a member of the Appropriations Committee. 

"Too often, when we discuss the challenges of immigration and criminal prosecution the problems of our Northern Border communities are forgotten," said Senator Murray. "I am working to ensure Whatcom County has the support it needs to deal with the burdens of serving as a national entry and exit point."

Northern Border Rapid Prosecution Initiative

Because Whatcom County serves as a major border crossing area, county law enforcement has the heavy burden of prosecuting cases that result from border-related crime, captured fugitives, drug trafficking and crimes committed by persons refused entry into Canada. 

In response to the serious problems this mounting caseload presented, Whatcom officials set up the Rapid Broder Prosecution Project in 2005. The project implemented the "Fast Track" prosecution system and increased the county's Prosecutor, Public Defender, judicial, and penal staff and capacity. Since then, the program has reduced the overall time for all cases moving through the Prosecutor’s Office and has freed up resources to deal with day-to-day local issues.

"The Rapid Prosecution Initiative in Whatcom County has worked to reduce the heavy burden Northern Border prosecutions have on the judicial system that Whatcom residents rely on," said Senator Murray. "I am pleased to support Whatcom County in its efforts to protect its citizens."

Pete Kremen, Whatcom County Executive, discussed what the funding will mean to Whatcom law enforcement efforts: 

“The funds that Senator Murray has included for our rapid prosecution initiative will allow us to dramatically reduce the processing time from arrest to sentencing." 

Multi-Jurisdictional Data Integration

The funding Senator Murray secured for this program will go toward linking the Whatcom Exchange Network (WENET), which tracks criminal offenders, to Canada and other U.S. jurisdictions. 

Presently, many law enforcement agencies are unable to share or exchange data or case information. When implemented, WENET will increase officer and public safety in Northern Border communities by providing efficient access to real time data from 11 different jurisdictions.

Specifically the funding will help link the system to Canadian and US law enforcement authorities, the Alaska Law Enforcement Information Sharing System (ALEISS), Law Enforcement Information Exchange (LINX) Northwest, State Regional and Federal Enterprise Retrieval System (SRFERS) and the Automated Regional Justice Information System (ARJIS) on the I-5 corridor. 

“This could not have been accomplished without the leadership and assistance of Senator Murray who responded to our need for law enforcement information sharing with her immediate care and attention.” added Kremen. 

The CJS Appropriations bill passed the full Appropriations Committee today and will now be considered by the full Senate.