Seattle Fire responds to reported double overdose inside Pike/Pine bar

Seattle Fire medic units rushed to treat two people who overdosed late Saturday night inside a Pike/Pine bar.

While many of Capitol Hill’s OD emergencies happen in stairwells and parking garages, the emergency response Saturday just before midnight came in the middle of the Purr Lounge on 11th Ave where one person was reported down inside the bar unconscious and unresponsive.

According to East Precinct radio reports, police arrived as the 911 dispatcher tried to help with people administering CPR to the victim. An arriving officer reported a second victim was also in the bar. A large Seattle Fire response followed. Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

Seattle, county move forward in fight against heroin deaths

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine are moving forward with all eight of the Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force’s recommendations to battle the region’s deadly epidemic.

“Opioid addiction is killing people in our community, sparing no age, race, sexual identity, income level or neighborhood,” Constantine said last week. “The experts we brought together have provided us with the battle plan we need to defeat this epidemic — a plan to save lives, to make it easier for people to get the help they need, to prevent the devastating harm that addiction causes. Unless we are willing to let this suffering continue, we have an obligation to turn their plan into action.”

The nearly 40 experts from public health, criminal justice, hospitals, schools and treatment providers and researchers convened in March 2016 and released a report and recommendations in September. Continue reading

County health officials sign off on safe consumption sites — now, where to put them?

A mock safe consumption site came to Cal Anderson in 2016 (Image: CHS)

A mock safe consumption site came to Cal Anderson in 2016 (Image: CHS)

The locations are far from final and another round of official approval lies ahead but the creation of a safe consumption site pilot in King County — possibly the first such program in the nation — moved ahead Thursday as the Board of Health unanimously approved recommendations from a task force assembled to stem the tide of opioid addiction and deaths.

Thursday’s 12-0 vote paves the way for the creation of two safe injection sites somewhere in King County. Officials are quick to add that no candidate sites have yet been made public. That important and crucial detail will fall to the executive branch in King County and Seattle as Dow Constantine and Mayor Ed Murray are now on the clock to present plans to make the sites reality. Continue reading

Budget update: 8 City Council tweaks to budget include reversing mayor’s drug arrest diversion cuts

budget-process-updateA proposed cutback on the city’s Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program that expanded to SPD’s East Precinct on Capitol Hill in 2016 will be restored in proposed changes to the Seattle budget put forward by the City Council this week.

District 3 representative Kshama Sawant sponsored the proposed $150,000 budget line item’s “green sheet” addition to the 2017 spending plan.

This Green Sheet would add $150,000 GSF in 2017 and $150,000 GSF in 2018 to the Human Services Department (HSD) for the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program. LEAD expanded to East Precinct in 2016; this funding would keep LEAD’s City-funded portion of its budget at the same level ($960,000).

LEAD is a pre-booking program that places qualifying drug use suspects into counseling instead of jail.

CHS wrote about Mayor Ed Murray’s 2017-2018 budget plan from a Capitol Hill perspective here. Council members have bristled at the mayor’s plan to slice back LEAD spending as well as his homeless spending plan.

Below are eight tweaks to the mayor’s plan being carried forward by the council members. You can take a look at all 104 proposed budget updates here.

  1. Fund the LEAD program: Add $150,000 GSF in 2017 and 2018 to HSD for the LEAD program Continue reading

Times: Seattle’s homeless and drug problems ‘intersected at the corner of Madison and Boren’

Inside Italian Family Pizza

Inside Italian Family Pizza

A Seattle Times column has some harsh words for the City of Seattle and Therapeutic Health Services, the operator of a busy methadone clinic on First Hill.

“We have a homeless problem, and we have a drug problem. And they have both intersected at the corner of Madison and Boren,” writes Nicole Brodeur about the challenges the owners of Italian Family Pizza tell her they’ve had in their first three months of business after moving to First Hill.

Included in the column are two incidents involving the Calozzi family straight from the CHS blotter. 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

SPD: Better training, reporting has cut ‘crisis intervention’ use of force

Training officers to end mental health crisis situations without force or arrest has been a major focus of reform at the Seattle Police Department in recent years. Those trainings now appear to be paying off in a big way. According to a report released by the department this week, officers rarely use force when responding to calls involving people in some form of mental health crisis.

With approximately 9,300 crisis responses reported last year, only 149 (1.6%) involved any use of reportable force, and of these, only 36 (0.4% of crisis responses overall) involved greater than a low-level, Type I use of force.

SPD credited its increased training and data collection for the encouraging trend — reforms that were part of the department’s response to a 2011 federal consent decree over excessive use of force by officers. Continue reading

SPD’s efforts to prevent heroin deaths earns a visit from Surgeon General


Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy speaks with SPD Chief Kathleen O’Toole and Mayor Ed Murray. (Image: Kaylee Osowski)

Seattle Police got the call on Sunday — a 21-year-old woman was on the ground and unresponsive at 9th and Pine. According to police reports she was extremely pale, had a faint heartbeat and did not appear to be breathing. Hypodermic needles laid next to her.

The officers gave her nasal naloxone, a heroin overdose antidote. Four minutes later, the woman was speaking in full sentences with medics and transported to Harborview Medical Center.

It was SPD’s 10th overdose save since it began equipping 60 bike cops with naloxone in March. It also came just ahead of the U.S. Surgeon General’s visit to Seattle to discuss the opioid epidemic.

“We have officers who are taking initiative to do something that’s not necessarily in their job description, but which is part of their overall mission, which is to save and protect lives,” said Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy while visiting SPD’s downtown headquarters. He called the program creative and commended the police department.

According to a July report from the UW Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, King County saw 132 heroin overdose deaths in 2015. Treatment admissions for heroin peaked, surpassing alcohol for the first time. Opioid abuse now kills more Americans than car accidents, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. It’s difficult to pin down just how many happen on Capitol Hill, but experts say the neighborhood is an overdose hotspot. The arrival of downtown homeless outreach workers to Capitol Hill was prompted in part by the rise of drug users living on the street. Continue reading