Seattle City Council gives drug crime a pass, failing to implement a Washington state law on possession with a conforming ordinance.
By Eileen Griffin
The Seattle City Council decided to allow drug activities to continue without consequences.
Despite a state law enacted in 2021, the city of Seattle has not updated its city ordinances to align drug crime policing and prosecution policies with the state, an editorial in The Wall Street Journal stated on August 18.
Washington state law now makes drug use or knowing possession of drugs a gross misdemeanor, punishable with up to 364 days in jail. Participation in recovery services is also encouraged by the state law. The bill passed with bi-partisan support.
The city of Seattle does not automatically update the city code to match changes in state law. A vote was required to pass a city ordinance consistent with state law. The City Council voted five to four against making the change.
Citywide Safe Zone for Drugs
Without the vote to criminalize drug use, Seattle has now made the city a safe zone for addicts and drug crime within the state of Washington.
The council members who voted against the change told the WSJ that jailing addicts is not the way to handle public drug use.
Council member Tammy Morales said that incarceration would have “deadly consequence(s)” and the city would benefit from spending money on “funds for low-income housing production, social services, and life-saving harm reduction instead of jailing.”
“Seattle’s drug crisis has contributed to record levels of violent and property crime,” states a WSJ editorial.
“The Downtown Seattle Association recently found that nearly three-fourths of locals they polled are visiting downtown Seattle less, and public disorder is the top reason,” states the editorial. “Thank the City Council.”
Crime Run Amok
As Heartland Daily News previously reported, the city of Seattle is besieged by crime to the extent that businesses are leaving or closing their Seattle locations.
In July, Fox 13 News reported on the violent crime and public drug use plaguing the city of Seattle. Residents complained about the deterioration of the city that previously was a tourist destination and a safe business environment.
“Seattle is the only city in the state where it is ok to use hard drugs,” Fox 13 reporter Hana Kim said.
“There are violent attacks downtown all the time now,” a city resident told Fox 13. “This is not the Seattle we know. This is not the Seattle we support. This is not the Seattle that we all pay for.”
Seattle reporter and talk radio host Jason Rantz says Mayor Bruce Harrell is responsible for the delay in criminalizing drug use.
Mayor Harrell Fails to Act
Council Bill 120645 is intended to simply align the city code with state law yet the ordinance is incomplete so the vote cannot take place. The bill refers to an Executive Order, but Harrell has not issued one as of this writing.
“It appears Mayor Harrell’s position is for the council to effectively vote on a new drug law that they haven’t seen yet,” Rantz wrote.
An amendment to the bill might help push the legislation through but would also result in few, if any, arrests.
“The bill forces officers to adopt a new standard,” Rantz wrote. “Are the users a threat to themselves or others as a result of the drug possession or use? If so, an arrest can be made. If not, there won’t be. At the same time, King County still severely restricts bookings in jail, which includes drug users. So even if an arrest is made, it’s unlikely to result in a booking.”
“Coupled with this fentanyl crisis, this vote, the lack of a contract, lack of public political support for police officers it’s a recipe for disaster,” Solan said. “We are seeing it, witnessing it firsthand unfold in this city and its totally avoidable. We just need people who want to lead that are reasonable and right now the council is not leading, and I think they have put Seattle in a serious problem for the immediate future.”
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