The Seattle City Council approved legislation Tuesday opening the way for a Seattle Police crackdown on public drug use on the city’s streets while doing more to emphasize diversion and treatment.
The 6-3 vote fell as expected with District 2 representative Tammy Morales, and District 3 leader Kshama Sawant joined by citywide councilmember Teresa Mosqueda in opposing the bill.
“There is real urgency to make critical investments to address the challenges facing people trapped in cycles of crisis, substance use, criminalization and housing instability, as well as genuine issues shared with me by frontline workers and neighbors impacted by the drug crisis,” Mosqueda said following Tuesday’s vote. “I have always advocated—and will continue to advocate—to address the root causes that lead to addiction, get neighbors the treatment they desperately need, and prevent public use. This bill, without expanding diversion capacity, won’t accomplish that.”
Sara Nelson, the other citywide rep on the council and sponsor of the original bill focused on City Attorney Ann Davison’s prosecution that was rejected by the council this summer, celebrated the passage. “The drug crisis we see playing out on our streets is the most crushing public health and safety issue of our time,” Nelson said. “We have a moral obligation to do everything within our power to reverse this devastating loss of life and associated community harms – including police intervention.”
Mayor Bruce Harrell said Tuesday he will sign the bill as soon as possible and issue an executive order to clarify how Seattle Police should enforce the new law after the council rejected an amendment Tuesday that would have directed an officer “to both make an assessment of threat of harm to others and make an attempt to divert when an individual only poses a threat of harm to themselves” under the new law. Continue reading