With the theme “Bold for the Blue,” hundreds gathered to support the Bellevue Police Department at the Bellevue Police Foundation’s annual breakfast on March 16.
The breakfast, held at W Hotel in downtown Bellevue, drew Bellevue City Council members, the mayor and Eastside business leaders, who all had a chance to see police equipment, such as guns and shields, and a K-9 unit prior to the start of the event.
The foundation was established in 2007 as a nonprofit and has consistently sought to help fund the department’s needs each year.
Less than two percent of the police department’s annual budget goes to discretionary spending on equipment, the foundation reports.
And that’s one of the reasons why Bellevue city manager Brad Miyake said he, specifically, is grateful for the foundation — because “there’s simply never enough money to pay for everything” the police department requests in its budget proposals. As city manager, Miyake is tasked with creating the city’s biennial budget every two years.
In 2017, BPF raised more than $100,000 and purchased the department its own hostage negotiation van or Crisis Response Team vehicle. Its funds helped to expand the Department of Civil Disturbance Unit’s bike team by purchasing additional bicycles, and the foundation’s donations helped the department purchase surveillance cameras and consulting services for the department’s Tomorrow’s Program.
Foundation chair Tracy Edgers said it is the foundation’s annual goal to reach $250,000.
And it seems the funded projects have paid off.
“I always feel safe when I’m in Bellevue,” Bellevue Mayor John Chelminiak said. “I have to tell you, when I walked off the elevator, I felt a lot safer.”
Chelminiak said the city is growing and with that growth, it’s the city’s job to make sure the police department grows with it.
“I know that will be a concentration as we go into another budget year here and I just want to say we are all Bold for the Blue here in Bellevue,” he said.
In addition to fundraising for the department, BPF honored detective Molly McBride, who has been with the department for 40 years, with their Platinum Service Award.
According to BPD, McBride was hired on Jan. 16, 1978 as a patrol officer. At the time, she was one of only 10 females in the department. In February 1985, McBride was promoted to detective in the investigations division and was the first female to be assigned to the detective unit.
From June 1997 until March 2011, McBride returned to the patrol section. During that time, her peers selected her as Officer of the Year for her work ethic and ability to deal with people in crisis. Today, she is a background investigator for those who apply to the department as police officers.
During the breakfast, the community also had the chance to learn how the FBI and BPD have formed partnerships over the years. Keynote speaker FBI special agent in charge Jay S. Tabb, Jr. spoke highly of the department’s work on several notable cases, including “Operation Red Light,” a May 2017 case that led to six federal arrest warrants, 38 search warrants, 31 brothels closed statewide and 33 potential victims of human trafficking rescued. Those victims were offered victim services and immigration relief.
Other partnered investigations included “Cash Cat,” in which a Cartel-connected drug trafficking organization was distributing heroin from Mexico to the Bellevue area. That joint investigation with the Eastside Narcotics Task Force turned up 23 search warrants, six firearms, three kilograms of heroin and six federal convictions in 2016. The organization’s ring leader was caught in Mexico and is now serving eight years in federal prison. And then there was the suspicious arson at the Bellevue Islamic Center in January 2017 that was initially thought to be a hate crime.
In each case, Tabb said there was a Bellevue detective on the task force that did significant work to bring the criminals to justice.
To learn more about the Bellevue Police Foundation, visit www.bellevuepolicefoundation.org.