Are drug-related arrests a sign that Seattle is finally reversing its downward spiral?
October 26, 2023
Friday, October 20, marked what could possibly be a new beginning for Seattle.
After more than two years of failed progressive drug policies, which contributed to thousands of overdose deaths and thousands of drug-related crime incidents, the Seattle Police Department finally began arresting those who illegally possess or publicly use such lethal drugs as fentanyl, methamphetamine, and heroin.
This change in how law enforcement responds to the city’s rampant drug problem came after a needlessly long and frustrating process.
In February 2021, the Washington State Supreme Court struck down the state’s drug possession laws in its Blake decision. It then took two years of rising overdose deaths and increased drug use for the Washington State Legislature during a 2023 special session to finally pass a “fix” to state laws which allowed local law enforcement to once again arrest those who possess illegal drugs.
Counties and cities from across the state immediately altered their local laws to permit local police departments and prosecutors’ offices to enforce drug possession laws.
The one exception was the City of Seattle. On June 6 five of the nine councilmembers caved to the demands of extremists and shot down an enforcement measure proposed by moderate Councilmember Sara Nelson.
Finally, on September 19, after weeks of public outrage over the city council’s previous decision, six members of the council voted in favor of a slightly revised drug possession ordinance.
This is the new drug law that went into effect last week.
After police officers spent last Friday morning distributing “educational” flyers in places where drug users gathered, arrest began in the afternoon. About two dozen arrests were made in two locations (3rd & Pike St in Downtown Seattle and 12th Avenue & South Jackson in the International District) where public drug use has been a serious ongoing problem.
Each of the arrested individuals were informed of drug treatment options available to them. If they accept treatment, their drug misdemeanor charges will be reduced or dropped. If they refuse help, then they will face jail time. The threat of incarceration is often the motivating factor an addict needs to end their destructive lifestyle.
It is not a surprise that 13 of 15 individuals arrested for drug possession have accepted referrals to treatment caseworkers. Before the new drug possession laws were implemented, these people would have continued their addictive behavior and cause harm to themselves and to our community. Now there is the opportunity to change their ways and be a positive contributor to our society.
Many of the individuals the police encountered had outstanding warrants for serious crimes. According to the Seattle Times, ten people were put in jail due to “outstanding felony warrants for offenses that included rape, domestic violence and assault.” Police stated they would not have come in contact with these criminals if the new drug law had not been in place.
Despite the success of removing ten criminals from the streets and the possibility of 13 drug addicts entering treatment, there are still progressives on the city council who would prefer conditions to remain the same. They believe the drug user’s “stability” is threatened if they are arrested and that they could die in jail from withdrawals.
While expressing these concerns, the progressives provide no effective way to curb the drug epidemic that is causing nearly four drug OD deaths per day and forcing EMS to respond to nearly two dozen drug overdose calls every day.
Remember, under the progressives’ policies, drug overdose deaths skyrocketed, drug-related crimes increased, and multiple long-standing employers have closed their doors fearful for their customers’ and workers’ safety.
The arrests last Friday were just the beginning. Many more public safety changes are still needed to make Seattle neighborhoods places where people can safely work and live.
The general election is only a couple of weeks away and in each of the seven Seattle City Council races there is a clear distinction in how the candidates view public safety and drug laws. Each district has a candidate who supports the policies passed by the current city council and there is a candidate who supports a firmer approach to those who commit crimes and possess lethal drugs.
Voters on Tuesday, November 7th will decide which ideas will prevail. We trust that informed voters like yourself will already plan to vote. Yet if you believe like we do that much is at stake in this year’s elections, then we encourage you to motivate two or three of your like-minded friends/associates/family members to join you in filling out and returning their ballots.
Below we have provided you with resources to help you and your friends to vote.
For Seattle voters: