Anna Rohrbough, a candidate for the District 2 position on Snohomish County Council, accompanied deputy sheriffs on patrol Sept. 30 to witness local law enforcement officials at work on the streets. The following is her edited account of the ride-along and her thoughts about drug use and homelessness.
To experience firsthand what so many people are talking about in Snohomish County, I asked for and was granted the privilege of going on a ride-along with deputy sheriffs last night.
Before long, a man was detained who was found possessing a bag of what was later tested to be methamphetamine. The suspect immediately said, “You can’t arrest me for that, it’s less than two grams!” He was right, I was told, it weighed in at 1.86 gm. He will not be charged for the drug possession.
Back at the jail as the deputy filled out the report, another police officer brought in a woman suspected of assault and possession of drugs. The amount was 2.6 grams and the corrections officer who stopped in to let us know let out a huge sigh, saying, “It makes you think about how many crimes they committed to get to this place now.”
That struck me as a statement. Finally a suspect would be held accountable.
Environment at outdoor camp shocking
We also visited a homeless camp, located literally 30 feet from the sidewalk, on the southeast side of Airport Road and Hwy. 99. There were open needles, rats, filth and human feces everywhere. I am told there was a homicide a week ago in this camp. Apparently it’s not the first that has occurred here.
I asked one of the four deputies I was with if people turn to drugs after becoming homeless, or do they become homeless and find their way to these camps because of drugs? He answered with authority: “100 percent of those living in these camps are homeless because of drugs.”
Enabling behaviors doesn’t help
It’s clear the number of able-bodied, homeless drug addicts who are committing crimes to feed their habit is growing. In facing the realities we experience in this county, it should never be about creating fear, but about sharing the truth so we can map a course to change it. When we deny or ignore the truth, we continue to enable, rather than disrupt behaviors.
I can never un-see what I saw tonight. How is it compassionate to let people live in this environment? We must leverage enforcement into care or consequences. We must make it uncomfortable to do drugs and commit crimes. We must support those families that had to learn to stop enabling it their homes, by choosing to stop enabling it on our streets.
Finding solutions is critical
There is no one solution to this problem, but residents and business owners need an ally on Snohomish County Council who is open to all options. Someone who will face reality, fight through the obstacles to make a difference to these peoples’ lives and help protect people from being victims of crime.
Our deputies are authoritative, but compassionate, and time after time I saw grace given. Please give them your support whenever you see them. Interestingly, 36 hours after I posted about my experience, ride-alongs for the public were cancelled indefinitely through the sheriff’s department.
PDC – Paid for by the Campaign to Elect Anna (R). For more information electanna.com