KENT, Wash. – Four King County cities have already said 'no' to safe drug-consumption sites – and a fifth community made a similar decision Tuesday night.
Kent became the latest suburb to take a stand on what would be the first publicly supervised drug-use facility in the United States.
Seattle has already said it would host one of the facilities but local health experts believe our area needs at least two to reduce overdose fatalities and provide drug treatment options.
But some families worry a legalized drug facility will do anything but keep communities safe.
“I don’t think it should be here,” said Kent mom Melissa Styles.
She said she and her son got an ugly surprise while visiting the bathrooms at Kent’s Town Square Plaza.
“It’s gross, it’s disgusting, and it smells like crack or something,” she said, “And my son just needed to go pee.”
Styles worries her town is being frequented by addicts – and worries the problem could only get worse if a safe injection site finds its way into Kent.
“It’s just going to be more places for them to use, it’s going to be everywhere and my kids don’t need to see that,” she said.
The city councils in Bellevue, Auburn, Federal Way and Renton have passed resolutions opposes to having a safe injection site their respective cities.
Some people worry a public facility that allows open drug use could attract criminals, drug dealers or addicts who may steal from neighboring homes and businesses.
The Kent City Council voted 6-1 Tuesday night for a temporary, six-month ban on placement of a safe drug-consumption site in the city.
“These are problems that are not going to be solved by arresting and prosecuting people,” said Mark Cooke with the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington.
Cooke was part of King County’s Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force and said safe drug-consumption sites found in Canada, Europe and Australia have been proven to reduce the number of addicts dying from overdose.
“The real hope is to keep those people healthy enough that they’re not in risky overdose situations and then hopefully getting them into treatment,” he said.
“I didn’t know you could be addicted to pain pills or become dependent on them until it’s too late,” said one Kent woman, who asked Q13 News to conceal her identity.
She said she was too embarrassed to show her face. The woman said she became homeless after abusing prescription painkillers turned into a full-blown heroin addiction.
“I don’t want people live this life because it’s miserable,” she said.
The woman told Q13 News she believes treatment is key to ending her addiction, but says she now plans to leave the state to find treatment.
“If you guys just keep pushing us away and looking us up, that doesn’t help anybody and it’s just getting worse,” she said.
King County health department officials said the two safe consumption sites likely will not be publicly identified until next year.