The city of Seattle may legalize most misdemeanor crimes. This isn’t an exaggeration. It’s arguably not even the most radical idea introduced by the Seattle City Council.
Rather, it’s the latest move by politicians growing increasingly dangerous and aloof to concerns in a city spiraling dangerously out of control.
In the final week of October, the Council used the 2021 budget process to forward an updated plan installing heroin injection sites, replace a specialized police unit tackling homelessness, and lay off more Seattle police, which already has record low staffing. Seeing the writing on the wall, some of the city’s best paid residents are fleeing.
Seattle is inspired by heroin injection sites in nearby Vancouver, B.C. They shouldn’t be. The neighborhood in downtown Vancouver was turned into a dangerous, filthy hellscape. What’s worse, overdose deaths continue to skyrocket. September saw over four overdose deaths a day, double what they saw the year prior.
With addiction comes crime. It’s not just open-air drug dealing, which remains a fixture, but break-ins where addicts steal then sell items to fuel their addiction. As those crimes go unpunished, a Council hellbent on defunding the police has run cops out of the force.
The SPD has the lowest number of deployable staff since 1990, which interim chief Adrian Diaz warns is not enough to keep the city safe. Officers accelerated their historic mass exodus after the Council partially defunded the department to force layoffs. At least 118 officers separated by the end of September. Yet the Council is readying an additional 20% budget cut, which cuts staff by not filling over 90 empty positions and laying off 35.
Residents are taking notice. South Lake Union and Downtown Seattle, where many of the city’s high paid tech workers live, are ditching their high-priced neighborhoods leaving a 9.5% and 8.5% large-apartment vacancy behind. Why pay high rents for small apartments in a city that’s growing increasingly dangerous, dirty and expensive? Businesses are following suit.
The very addicts on Seattle streets can change when they hit rock bottom. That may be what it takes to get Seattle to change its course: hitting rock bottom. But at that point, what will be left of this once great city? If there’s not quick intervention, we may soon find out.
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