Spotlight on the DEA: Derby Enforcement Agency

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When taking in the robust experience of roller derby spectating, it’s easy to become completely focused on particular skaters. Often the spotlight lands on the jammers, after all these fast, fierce ladies are flying around the track with stars on their helmets. However, the next time you find yourself lucky enough to be attending a roller derby bout, I encourage you to look at the track. Look around the whole track, look at the edges of the track, and in the middle of the track. It is there that you will find the people who make roller derby possible–officials.

Bellingham Roller Betties’ officials are part of the league and on the team roster for the D.E.A. (Derby Enforcement Agency). These devoted volunteers must understand the WFTDA (Women’s Flat Track Derby Association) rules inside and out and attend practices, such as scrimmages, to keep their skating and officiating skills sharp. For each roller derby bout, at least 8 on skate officials and approximately 16 off skate officials are needed.

Skating Officials: Positioned inside and outside the track in order to call penalties.

Head Referee (HR): Can eject a skater or coach and their interpretation of the WFTDA rules is what is used in the bout.
Jammer Referees (JR): There are 2 JR’s one per team. JR must be able to skate quickly around the inside of the track, staying in line with their jammer’s hips. Responsible for tracking points and calling penalties on their jammer.
Back Pack Referee (BPR): Skates around the inside of the track behind the rear pack skater. Often calls block penalties, no pack penalties, out of play, and out bounds penalties
Front Pack Referee (FPR): Skates around the inside of the track, often skating in reverse, and staying in front of foremost blocker. Frequently calls block penalties, no pack penalties, out of play, and out bounds penalties.
Outside Pack Referee (OPR): There are 3 OPR’s per game. OPR’s must skate around the outside of the track to call penalties visible to outside and hidden to refs on the inside of the track.

Non Skating Officials (NSO’s): Responsible for EVERYTHING ELSE during a bout

Head NSO
Jam Timer
Penalty Tracker(2)
Penalty wrangler
Penalty box manager
Penalty box timer (2)
Scorekeeper (2)
Lineup tracker (2)



Whack Job has been on the DEA since 2010. She earned her certificate in NSO officiating and is working on her certificate as a skating referee with the WFTDA. Whack Job says she loves being a part of the DEA and being able to travel and meet people through roller derby as an official. She’s officiated everything from beer leagues to international championship games.

Whack Job says one of the most important things to let a potential volunteer know is that how much time you give to derby and officiating is up to you. You can be an NSO and volunteer a few hours per month, or you can invest in gear and training and work to get certified to officiate around the world.


So if you have been aspiring to join the Bellingham Roller Betties but the idea of getting injured on the track kept you away join the DEA! It is the joy of derby without all bruises. We are looking to fill positions immediately and/or any time during the season.

Contact the DEA for more information here-

If you’re still not sure about joining the DEA but you want to get involved with Betties there are other volunteer opportunities. Such as scoreboard operator, announcers, EMT’s, track crew, concessions, tickets, merch booth, etc.


Written by: Dottie Hazzard