‘Infancy’ — Officials still gathering data to determine where safe consumption sites can be located

An Insite "supervised injection site" in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

An Insite “supervised injection site” in Vancouver, B.C. (Image: Seattle.gov)

At the end of January, King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced they were moving forward with all of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force recommendations to battle the heroin epidemic at a local level, including launching two safe consumption sites.

Officials are currently gathering data and information and meeting with communities to determine where the two sites, one slated for Seattle and one for greater King County, should be located.

Brad Finegood, assistant division director at King County Behavioral Health and Recovery Division, told CHS the process is in its “infancy.”

“There are so many things to undertake in an effort like this where A) there’s none in the U.S. and B) there’s so many community groups to discuss it with,” Finegood said. Continue reading

Police say no signs of foul play after body found in Colonnade Park

Police say there were no signs of foul play after a body was found in the Colonnade Park beneath I-5 on the slope between Capitol Hill and Eastlake Wednesday morning.

According to the Seattle Police Department, a death investigation was conducted after the body was found next to the park’s off-leash dog area but there was no immediate evidence of a crime.

The King County Medical Examiner’s office will investigate the cause of death and identification of the person found.

The area is well known for campers and drug use and police are often called to the park.

Last week, Seattle’s new homeless Navigation Team begins a clean-up effort with a sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill and around the area of the park.

Mayor Ed Murray announced during his State of the City speech earlier this week a proposal for a new $55 million levy to help the city pay for its homelessness services. The city’s emergency operations center has also been opened to help direct resources needed to remove camps and assist homeless people with finding shelter.

King County officials and task force members, meanwhile, are working with the community to identify potential locations — one in Seattle, and one outside the city — for new safe consumption sites to stem the tide of overdoses that would give drug users a place to use that is supervised and can provide resources like clean needles.

Why you should stop by the new drug drop box on Broadway

It comes nowhere close to the costs of addiction but big drug companies are funding a small program in King County to put “secure medicine return” boxes in locations where it easier for residents to get rid of unwanted pharmaceuticals.

Officials were on hand last week at the Broadway Market QFC to announce the program and show off one of the new drop box locations.

“Working on secure medicine return, I’ve truly seen the community spirit here in King County. These drop boxes are run by volunteers. All of the locations have volunteered to have drop boxes. And the program is supported and operated by drug producers whose medications are sold in King County,” King County Council member Joe McDermott said Thursday morning with the soft rock of the QFC sound system and beeps from the nearby checkouts in the background. “I look forward to the success of this producer supported program.”

A map of medicine return boxes around the county is below. You can also find drop sites at the Country Doctor clinic on 19th Ave E and at the Capitol Hill Group Health campus.

Continue reading

Seattle homeless Navigation Team begins clean-up with sweep of I-5 camps below Capitol Hill

(Image: CHS)

(Image: CHS)

There have been clean-ups of the area beneath Interstate 5 between Capitol Hill and Eastlake before. But officials hope this week’s sweeps can be part of a longer term change of what an East Precinct officer once described as a “no man’s land populated by the homeless, mental cases.”

In the first official deployment of the city’s new Navigation Team including outreach workers and police, the areas along and under I-5 popular with campers in the city’s core are being cleared out.

Here is what KOMO saw during the start of the clean-up in a half-mile stretch near the Colonnade Park between lower Capitol Hill and Eastlake:

Police and safety vest clad workers started pulling apart a bunker underneath I-5 early Tuesday. Mixed in with the bottles filled with urine were piles of blankets, rats and a smattering of personal belongings. Continue reading

Council pushes back on mayor’s budget cuts to drug arrest diversion, spending on homeless plan

Budget season is in full swing at City Hall and City Council members have begun their dive in what will likely be this year’s most contentious topic: homeless services. On Wednesday, the City Council discussed amendments to Mayor Ed Murray’s budget for the Human Services Department.

The $157 million budget represents a 10.3% increase over the department’s 2016 spending with $56 million in homelessness-related programs moved under a new Division of Homeless Strategy and Investment. Within that budget is $476,000 for four full-time employees to get the department rolling on implementing the mayor’s recently unveiled homelessness response plan Pathway’s Home.

That was the first bump in the road at City Council. District 3 representative Kshama Sawant said she opposed expenditure as the council has not fully approved Murray’s plan and said the funds should be spent on services directly. “I find this too rushed,” she said. Continue reading

Heroin addiction task force recommends Seattle open safe consumption sites

"Ghost" behind QFC had just purchased and cooked up $10 worth of heroin (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

“Ghost” behind QFC had just purchased and cooked up $10 worth of heroin (Image: Tim Durkan with permission to CHS)

Momentum is building in Seattle to open a space where heroin addicts can use their own drugs under medical supervision at so-called safe consumption sites.

A task force of opiate addiction experts, public officials, law enforcement officials, and former addicts released a 99-page report Thursday outlining eight recommendations on what the city and region should do to tackle its heroin epidemic. Among those is opening two “community health engagement locations” — one in Seattle and one in greater King County.

“I believe we should have these sites,” said Mayor Ed Murray, who will be visiting safe consumption sites in Vancouver, BC this week. There is currently no operating safe consumption site in the U.S. and task force members acknowledged there would be legal challenges to overcome. Continue reading

Homelessness, addiction, two deaths, a father’s search: how the human remains in Interlaken Park were found

The large cedar tree where LeBaron's son's body was found (Image: Jonathan LeBaron with permission to CHS)

The large cedar tree where LeBaron’s son’s body was found (Image: Jonathan LeBaron with permission to CHS)

Jon LeBaron with his sister. (Image courtesy of Jonathan LeBaron)

Jon LeBaron with his sister. (Image courtesy of Jonathan LeBaron)

A search through Capitol Hill’s Interlaken Park to the spot where his son’s body was discovered in the greenbelt’s wooded ravines led Jonathan LeBaron to another lost life. LeBaron found the human remains CHS reported on over the Labor Day holiday weekend while walking to a tall cedar tree inside the park, the site where the body of his son Jon LeBaron had been found by two people a few days earlier. Authorities are investigating not one set of human remains found in Interlaken in the weeks around Labor Day, but two.

“I think that place should be combed,” LeBaron tells CHS. “It was a needle in a haystack where I found that body.”

The discoveries underscore the epidemic of addiction and homelessness that continues to grow on Capitol Hill and the region despite the city’s renewed attempts to address it. They also illustrate a dilemma with Interlaken Park, loved for its wild terrain filled with tall trees and steep ravines — the same terrain that makes it an ideal place to camp undetected and nearly impossible for those overdosing or in need of help to be found. Continue reading

East Precinct cops ready to roll out program to put drug users in treatment, not jail

By the end of July, Capitol Hill police officers will be able to refer drug users to treatment programs — not jail. Along with a visit from a touring example of a safe drug consumption site, the month is bringing a few steps of progress in breaking drug addiction cycles that have challenged the neighborhood for decades.

In recent weeks, East Precinct officers have been trained to participate in the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program. LEAD now joins the already functioning Multi-Disciplinary Team program on Capitol Hill in giving law enforcement new options and resources for dealing with addiction. Officials are looking at ways the two programs can work together.

According to Public Defender Association director Lisa Daugaard, all East Precinct police officers will be trained to participate in LEAD by the end of the month. Until now only West Precinct officers have been able to recommend people for LEAD participation. There was initial talk of only expanding the program to Capitol Hill, but “Capitol Hill community leaders actually pushed for inclusion of the rest of the precinct on racial justice grounds,” because, according to Daugaard, community leaders felt that parts of the East Precinct with a higher percentage of minorities than Capitol Hill should also benefit from the program. Daugaard said she anticipates that once East Precinct officers have been trained, “there will probably be significantly more referrals” for the LEAD program. Continue reading

Here’s what group says a safe drug consumption site in Cal Anderson would look like

(Image: VOCAL Washington)

(Image: VOCAL Washington)

You can try to police your way through the mess of drugs in Seattle. You can also try to address some of the health and social issues around addiction head on. One solution advocates are hoping to bring to Seattle are safe consumption sites for drug users. VOCAL Washington’s tour of a mock safe consumption site around Seattle is making stops on Capitol Hill this week. Continue reading

Rising price of heroin overdose antidote won’t affect SPD pilot program

Even with the antidote, overdoses continue to plague the city and East Precinct. Wednesday night, police and fire responded to a reported double overdose on Lakeview Blvd. We're checking for more details on the incident (Image: CHS)

Even with the antidote, overdoses continue to plague the city and East Precinct. Wednesday night, police and fire responded to a reported overdose on Lakeview Blvd. We’re checking for more details on the incident.  (Image: CHS)

A price spike for a life-saving drug won’t hamper an important Seattle Police pilot program. The price of the heroin overdose antidote naloxone has “risen as much as 17-fold in the past two years” but SPD says the price increase will not affect its ongoing pilot program.

“Right now it is not expected to impact us,” a SPD spokesperson told CHS, saying that the supply of naloxone needed for the pilot was purchased before the price increase occurred.

SPD announced the pilot in March as a way to combat the all-too-frequent heroin overdoses on Capitol Hill. As part of the 6-8 month pilot, 60 bike officers carry nasal naloxone and administer the drug when they encounter someone suffering from an opioid overdose. The officers stay with the person until medics arrive.

The funding for the pilot came in part from The Marah Project, a non-profit named after former Capitol Hill resident Marah Williams. Williams died of a heroin overdose in 2012, when she was 19 years old.

While the pilot program will not be affected by the price increase, the SPD spokesperson said that it was too early to tell whether the price increase would impact the implementation of a more extensive program after the pilot has been reviewed.

So far, SPD says that the drug has been deployed six times and all deployments have been successful. According to the SPD blotter, the most recent deployment wasthree weeks ago when two officers administered naloxone to prevent a woman from overdosing near the Alaskan Way Viaduct. After nasal naloxone was administered, the woman’s breathing stabilized and she was transported to Harborview Medical Center.