EVERSON - Erik Ramstead, the longtime chief of the Everson Police Department, died Tuesday morning, Jan. 15.
Ramstead, 50, worked with the department for 28 years.
Everson Mayor John Perry confirmed the death in a statement: "We share with heavy hearts that Everson Police Chief Erik Ramstead passed away this morning. At the time, he was surrounded by his family. This great loss will be felt throughout our community."
Ramstead served one of the longest police chief tenures in Washington state. He took on the job in the 1980s. Perry called him a close personal friend.
"He was a great man," he said. "He did a lot of great things for this city."
In the hours following Ramstead's death, the mayor declined to discuss what the police department will do moving forward.
Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo said Ramstead often showed he cared about people on a professional and a personal level.
"I'm going to miss his close counsel and his friendship," Elfo said. "He was just such a good family man, and he had a very strong faith in God."
Many in local law enforcement were aware Ramstead was suffering from a long-term illness.
"It's a huge loss. Just look at the years of experience Erik had," said Sumas Police Chief Chris Haugen. "He was just a real fixture out here in this part of the county."
Haugen recalled swapping news, leads and stories in the parking lot of Nooksack Valley High School, their regular meeting place to talk shop and catch up.
"I'm going to miss that," he said. "He was a pleasure to work with."
Reach Caleb Hutton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2276. Read his Dispatcher blog at blogs.bellinghamherald.com/dispatcher or get updates on Twitter at @bhamcrime.