The Council is currently working on the 2017 county budget and a focus of mine is combating the Heroin epidemic head on. This epidemic effects every community in our county. It devastates families. It hurts our employers and local economies. But we can do something about it.
Yesterday, during budget deliberations I presented the Council with the Opioid Crisis Intervention Plan I have been working on. The plan will focus on public safety and addiction treatment programs that have a proven track record of success.
Programs such as embedding social workers with law enforcement, addiction treatment, and transitional housing can break the cycle of crime and addiction. They save taxpayer dollars.
Here are some of the items I outlined in the plan.
Support for Law Enforcement
Property crime in our county has increased by 23% in the last two years alone. Law enforcement has a difficult job and they deserve our support.
- Preserve critical programs in Sheriff’s office such as the Violent Offender Task Force, Office of Neighborhoods, Fraud Investigations and Computer Forensics (which assists in the conviction of sexual assault investigations).
- Increase staffing for Law Enforcement Embedded Social Workers (LEESW).
- Provide law enforcement with upgraded bullet proof vests that will help keep them safe in the most dangerous situations.
- Provide law enforcement de-escalation training under the Washington Criminal Justice Commission.
Treatment Services and Housing
Opioid use has been especially devastating in Snohomish County. From 2010-2013 Snohomish County experienced 18% of all heroin-related deaths in Washington, although the county comprises only 10% of the state’s population. Despite these trends there is not a single publicly funded addiction treatment bed operating in the county. We need to change that.
Use the Carnegie building to serve individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. The services will reduce law enforcement costs by providing low-cost diversion from involvement in the justice system including court and detention costs.
Remodel unused space at the Denny Youth Center to provide much needed behavioral health and addiction treatment beds.
Partner with housing advocates and communities of faith to turn four county owned houses into temporary housing facilities. Based on successful Marysville Extended Shelter Home program.
Abate Dangerous Properties
Funding for abatements has not been allocated in the last three budgets cycles, yet demand for the work is at historic highs. Foreclosed residences and partially completed subdivisions have become attractive locations for illegal activities. Please view this King 5 interview with the Drug and Gang task force.
Snohomish County is a beautiful place. This plan will help keep it that way.