Letter to the Editor: Worried that an injection site in Shoreline would bring crime

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

To the Editor:

I read Shoreline city council candidate Jin-Ah Kim’s recent letter to the editor where she states:

“I support Safe Sites – But not in Shoreline. Locations are chosen based on crime anyways (sic), Shoreline is not a top choice”.

When candidate Kim first filed her intentions to run for office, I checked her website and at that time her website stated that she favored safe injection sites for Shoreline. Her website has since been changed, but the website still contains a video of a King 5 news story about her candidacy and the interview that she gave King 5 news just a few months ago. The news story tells us what Ms. Kim’s priorities for Shoreline are:

“Kim is pushing for detox centers and mental health services in Shoreline, she favors safe injection sites and an income tax on individuals making more than a quarter million dollars a year” (King 5 News “Recovering Addict Running for Shoreline City Council” May 25, 2017, 01:15-01:29)

The county council is placing one injection site in Seattle, and looking for the placement of a second injection site. With many of the other cities in King County voting to exclude injection sites where will the other one go? I am worried that although not a “top choice”, Shoreline could be the “only choice” according to candidate Kim. I am very concerned that a site in Shoreline will bring more crime and homelessness as addicts stay near the site in order to use it multiple time each day. I believe prevention and treatment are better options for our city.

Pam Cross
Shoreline


15 comments:

Melinda October 17, 2017 at 6:22 PM  

Prevention and treatment are much better options for the whole country. But because we don't tax the wealthy and corporations as much as we should there won't be any money for it. Until we change the tax structure to make them pay their fair share this is our country--no money for anything worthwhile for the citizens.

Anonymous,  October 17, 2017 at 8:05 PM  

Snohomish County, especially Everett, has a very high concentration of opiod and meth addicts, many of them homeless. Snohomish County has banned Safe Injection Sites. Which city is right on the county line and closest to Everett? Shoreline is, and the infrastructure to site a facility is already here... the methadone clinic or possibly even the other public health clinic on Aurora.

This is the reality from a law enforcement officer about why property crime is going up and the connected the hardcore drug use. I know the truth is uncomfortable, but in order to have safe neighborhoods we need to be honest instead of worrying about "hurt feelings" or offending those suffering from addiction and those in recovery.

https://www.reddit.com/r/SeattleWA/comments/722gmn/why_dont_the_police_do_anything_about_property/

Ellie Wilson October 17, 2017 at 8:47 PM  

An injection site wouldn't necessarily increase crime, but it would prevent disease and unnecessary deaths from overdoses. It's often the alienation and persecution of people who have problems with drugs that create crime and continue to perpetuate drug use and other problems, like poverty. As someone who has lived on the streets, I can tell you - you cannot possibly imagine how bad the use of heroine, methamphetamine, and crack cocaine use have gotten, as well as use of other unnatural drugs, like cold medicines. I've learned that a significant portion of people, even normal-looking people you wouldn't expect, are hiding addiction. I've also found out that a lot of the kindly "old timers" that hang out in bars, who look to be around 60-70 years old, are actually much younger, around 40, white-haired and mottled from years of drugs, particularly crack cocaine. People often are more accepting of help if they are not judged by the population, thrown in jail or prison, made to feel ashamed, hide their addiction, or become alienated from the general population. In the countries where drug use is at it's lowest, drug use and addiction aren't even crimes - there are often parks set aside for people to use drugs legally. The methodology is that if the user is caught using drugs in an illegal area, they are given a $20 fine, but instead of being arrested, they are sent to a meeting where they are asked if they'd like help. If the user says "no," they are free to leave the room. However, if the user says "yes," they are placed in front of a council of people who are educated in addiction, physical and mental health, side effects and psychology of drug use, recovery and rehabilitation specialists. The result is that most drug users say "yes," and thus those countries (located around western Europe), have less drug users than anywhere else in the entire world.

ThomForeman October 17, 2017 at 9:04 PM  

I completely agree with your letter. This is not compassion, this is enabling.
Your thoughts on the increase in crime are spot on also. If someone gets high, are they driving back to West Seattle or Burien to go to work or go home? No, they are probably going somewhere close like you suggest.
Thanks for this information, I will be sure to vote against this candidate.

Jin-Ah Kim, Candidate - Shoreline City Council Pos. #1 October 18, 2017 at 1:20 AM  

Dear Pam,

Thank you for your concerns. However, I'm surprised you didn't come up to me at any of the forums. Please do call my cell next time, I'd be happy to answer all of your concerns: 206.707.9220

Frankly, I will always support Community Health Engagement Locations (CHEL) - which is the correct terminology, because in this case, the opponents are right - there is nothing SAFE about using drugs. And "injection" is an inaccurate description as well as we are including ALL users: smokers, snorters, etc. Notice how the KING5 article does not quote but rather paraphrase. I requested for the correct terminology to be used but the term "Safe Injection Sites" is more widely understood. As far as the rest of the quote goes, the rest is fairly accurate. I have always advocated for more mental health services. But I try to be more than a one issue candidate. In fact, I've made it a point to speak out about traffic mitigation, infrastructure notifications, and simplifying affordable housing and environmental/tree goals.

I also pledge not to FORCE a subject if the community resists. If elected, I'm not representing Jin-Ah. I will represent Shoreline. My job as an elected official will be to advocate for the positions that I believe are right - but if I fail - I vote by the will of the people.

I have vowed repeatedly to be your voice. My whole campaign was to communicate more effectively and listen - ESPECIALLY if I don't agree with you. I won't bulldoze the community. And I will not bulldoze you.

That is a promise, Pam.

And I don't take that responsibility lightly. I live to be impeccable to my word. To keep principles before personalities. And to be truthful, transparent, and accessible.

I hope that helps. Also CHEL sites are only one out of six recommendations made by the King County Heroin Task Force. A complex problem such as addiction requires a complex solution. I like to call it a "holistic" solution that combines expanding behavioral health, with new creative approaches. Here is the final report, which I honestly couldn't have written a better set of solutions myself. I highly recommend reading it - as I will be using it as a template of sorts for the future:

http://www.kingcounty.gov/~/media/depts/community-human-services/behavioral-health/documents/herointf/final-heroin-opiate-addiction-task-_force-report.ashx?la=en

Anonymous,  October 18, 2017 at 11:18 AM  

No one has mentioned that possession of heroin is a class C felony in Washington state. There is one candidate who has admitted to this type of felony and she wants to encourage others to continue committing felonies at so-called safe injection sites. Until the state changes this law, it should be enforced. I think cities would be liable for any injuries occurring in and around heroin injection sites.

Anonymous,  October 18, 2017 at 2:30 PM  

What sad but predictable responses. Anyone that thinks the war on drugs (really a war on users, not producers) is a good use of your tax $ should look to Portugal. And for those of you that still think "users" somehow deserve where they are, you better cross your fingers that no one you care about gets a severe injury that keeps them out of work for an extended period of time. The distance between you and "them" is much smaller than you like to believe.

Lori Theis October 18, 2017 at 5:34 PM  

To the enablers of addicts and proponents of drug consumption sites in King County:

Have any of you visited Vancouver, B.C lately? Since the establishment of multiple drug consumption sites the number of overdose deaths in B.C. has DOUBLED and will surpass 1,400 in 2017, which would be a huge increase over the record 935 deaths recorded in 2016.

In Vancouver this year so far: nine in 10 illicit drug overdose deaths occurred indoors, including more than half in private residences. No deaths occurred at either of Vancouver’s supervised consumption sites. Granted, this is a correlation not a causation - but the obvious point is that these sites DO NOT prevent overdose deaths and therefore totally undercuts the enabler's argument altogether.

Why should taxpayers fund criminal activity? Who is going to be libel when an addict leaves a drug consumption site and kills someone? This kind of moral relativity and abandonment of objective truth is destroying not only our city but our society.

Jin-Ah Kim October 18, 2017 at 10:12 PM  

Hi Anonymous,

Just to be clear, I've never used in Washington State. I came here for treatment to be closer to family. I've never had a record, nor did I commit any theft during my addiction. I worked 3 jobs while going to college (undergrad) full-time until I collapsed under the pressure and sought treatment for the first time (at age 19, I went to five total), and lost my jobs due to that absence (I chose not to disclose to some of my employers - due to fear of stigma, plus denial). My family helped pay my bills during my first stints in treatment because we never thought this would happen to us (I include my family because addiction takes victims through all loved ones affected). I became homeless when my family finally cut me off. I was a good kid, Sunday School teacher who became addicted through painkillers.

There are millions of people like me who are just normal, kind people who never wanted to hurt everyone we loved and most of all, ourselves.

Just to be clear, I wouldn't have been cleared to be a licensed Home Care Aide for developmentally disabled adults with a record because my employer does not allow for any charges that would put clients at risk (not even theft III, a minor misdemeanor).

As far as I know, the state that I did endure my addiction in (I went to college in Rochester, NY for photojournalism, it's known for being the birthplace of kodak) - felony charges are for possession of 8 ounces or more, I could hardly consume by myself that much even over a long period of time. I never sold - but rather "maintained" by keeping away the sickness caused by painkiller addiction. New York state has also started to approach addicts through diversion programs, such as drug court - rather than penalize, because they too, recognize addiction as a disease.

All of this could have been cleared up again - if you call! Please do, I'd be happy to address any more concerns!

cell: 206.707.9220

Jin-Ah Kim October 19, 2017 at 10:56 PM  

Hi,

So this is a large part of an article I wrote for a different purpose -- but I will copy and paste specifically the parts that address the concerns voiced by Lori Theis in her comment:

PART I:

"The arguments against safe sites are based on fear. Not on facts. All of them hypothetical. What if the area becomes dangerous? What if it encourages teens who are only smoking marijuana to graduate to Heroin because of these sites? What if my kid, who is on the streets right now, never gets clean because we give them permission to use? We are enabling them. We would be giving them permission to use drugs.

Addicts aren’t waiting for our permission.

These are the same exact arguments that were used against the needle exchange programs back when they were proposed in the 80s during the throes of the AIDS epidemic. These programs provided clean syringes, paraphernalia (including crack/meth pipes) to addicts, free of charge, to encourage them to bring their used needles in exchange for clean ones, that way they wouldn’t share them with others. And it worked. A drastic and extreme response was warranted then, as it is now. Rampant miseducation and misinformation also spread during that time about AIDS and HIV to further perpetuate the fear within people.

Concerns over crime rates rising near the sites are based largely on the fact that “Insite” in Vancouver, BC have high crime rates surrounding them. Only one thing wrong with that argument: the locations for these sites are determined by how crime ridden the neighborhoods are. In other words, that neighborhood was crime ridden to begin with. The site didn’t raise the level of crime…It was already there. Secondly, the sites being proposed for King County are called Community Health Engagement Locations (CHEL). I started this article by calling them Safe Injection Sites largely for readers who may not know the correct terms. Well we should start using the correct terminology. Because in this case the opponents are right – there is nothing safe about using drugs. In fact, even the word “injection” is inaccurate to use in this case because we are not only including IV users but also smokers, those who snort drugs, users who may have never used a needle in their life. Correct terminology is important, both to combat misinformation from spreading and to not aid those who would see its’ demise. They are Community Health Engagement Locations – key word: engagement. These sites will have medical professionals, social workers, housing specialists, therapists, counselors – you name it, we’ll have it. Homeless addict women will be able to have medical professionals spot a pregnancy before them, because when you are homeless, birth control is not exactly a high priority - and when you are high, it’s hard to tell pregnancy symptoms from withdrawal – and we may be able to spare that baby, who had absolutely no choice in the matter, from spending its’ first moments of life withdrawing from drugs.

(CONT. ON PART II)

Jin-Ah Kim October 19, 2017 at 10:57 PM  

PART II:

Addicts are purposely going to public places to use in case they overdose, hoping someone will find them in time to resuscitate them. I will repeat that. Addicts are purposefully using drugs in public places in case they overdose – grocery store bathrooms, parks, etc. They are already creating their own ‘safe sites’ using baby changing tables and leaving blood and needles behind, not because they are evil and want to harm babies, but because when you are high, sometimes you forget. And believe me, addicts don’t leave behind their drugs and needles on purpose. They need them for future use. We know this! Grocery stores know this! We see sharps containers in bathrooms in Safeway and PCC markets across the state. These stores will state this is for ‘diabetics’ – but we all know that those containers aren’t emptied every month from being full because of diabetics shooting insulin inside grocery store bathrooms every day. In fact, one of those addicts was my friend, Audrey. She overdosed inside a Safeway bathroom in Shoreline where I’m running for City Council now. 3 days after I celebrated my first year in recovery. My friend Aaron’s ashes are spread in Hamlin Park, where we just saved 4 acres from being cut down by the city. Audrey was 26. Aaron was 35. He was supposed to come to school that day at Shoreline Community College where he had just joined the men’s choir.

The sites in King County may also provide the option of being able to test the drugs for harmful additives such as Fentanyl or Carfentanil that are causing DEA agents to overdose on drug raids from skin contact. Yes, overdose rates have risen around the site in Vancouver. But that’s not because of the sites themselves – it’s because Heroin isn’t Heroin anymore, it’s Carfentanil.

To give you an idea of how strong Carfentanil is - here is a basic breakdown of the potency of Opioids, from weakest to strongest:

Morphine is a prescription painkiller often prescribed after surgeries, it’s street equivalent is Heroin. Dilaudid is 10x stronger than Morphine. Fentanyl is 100x stronger than Morphine. Carfentanil is 10,000x stronger than Morphine. Let me break that down for you one more time.

Heroin = Morphine
Dilaudid = 10x stronger than Morphine
Fentanyl = 100x stronger than Morphine
Carfentanil = 10,000x stronger than Morphine

A table salt grain worth of Carfentanil can kill a grown man. It was originally used to tranquilize elephants but was discontinued because it was too strong. I can’t make this stuff up. In fact, DEA agents are overdosing from it on drug raids from basic skin contact. It was reported by their website as an urgent alert.

(CONT. ON PART III):

Jin-Ah Kim October 19, 2017 at 10:57 PM  

PART III:

It is being manufactured in bulk in places like China and smuggled over here easily because only small amounts are needed. Drug dealers are cutting their drugs with this substance using pill pressers in the shape of designer drugs and selling them at high prices. There’s just one problem with that: drug dealers are not chemists. They don’t even realize that they are killing off their own customers. And believe me, it is within their best interest to keep their customers alive for return business.

Overdose rates have skyrocketed everywhere around the world because of Carfentanil. It used to be that our Heroin came from places like Afghanistan and Russia. But now, it is being manufactured in China and cut over here in the U.S. and being passed off as Heroin and other designer drugs. This is why it is not called the Heroin epidemic but rather the Opioid epidemic – because Heroin the way we knew it doesn’t exist anymore. It’s not fair to blame overdose rates rising in Vancouver because of their Safe Site. That’s like blaming the doctor treating cancer patients for the rise of cancer deaths. No, cancer causes cancer deaths, not the doctors treating them.

All of this information, by the way, is cited from the Opioid Summit that I attended back in May. It was put on by the Office of the Attorney General Bob Ferguson as a response to Governor Jay Inslee’s Executive Order to address the Opioid epidemic. A three-day summit full of speakers from all different backgrounds - including law enforcement, medical professionals, and other experts in the field. It was basically the TedTalk of Opioids. Many state legislators and other top officials from around Washington attended this summit, including Democrats and Republicans alike. Out of all of the speakers that spoke however, not one of them was a recovering addict. We are missing a huge piece of the puzzle if we do not include addicts into the conversation. How can you possibly solve a problem you’ve never experienced before? It’s the blind leading the blind.

While I was working as a photographer in Olympia for the Washington State Legislative Session from January-April 2017 - I saw everything. It was a non-partisan position so I didn’t have an opinion while I was down there. In fact, many Republican legislators just assumed that I too was a Republican. Some even went so far as to suggest that I doorbell for some of them (oh, if they only had known). Being a photographer, I had a front row seat to all of the action. I probably saw more than some of the legislators because I had to attend committee meetings as well, especially to build portfolios of the new legislators, both in House and the Senate. I saw it all.

(CONT. ON PART IV):

Jin-Ah Kim October 19, 2017 at 10:57 PM  

PART IV:

One moment that particularly shocked me perfectly illustrates the state of reckless abandonment that flies around our capitol when it comes to drug policy. I once witnessed during a House floor debate Representative Brad Klippert (R) say: “Marijuana kills 60% more people than Tobacco cigarettes.” He said that with all seriousness in his voice. And if you’re a state representative, you don’t have to cite your sources MLA or APA format. You can just say whatever you want and proclaim it as truth! I had to hide my face behind the camera to keep from bursting into laughter. But laughter quickly turned into horror as I realized “Oh dear God, that man is making our laws.” This was during a floor debate. As in the bill had already made it past all of the committees and was now being deliberated on for approval within the House. Another time, during a Senate Human Services, Mental Health & Housing Committee hearing - I once saw UW researchers give a short 10-15 min. powerpoint presentation on Opioids talking about the need to increase education for doctors and at the end of their presentation announce: “Senators, you now have more of an education on Opioids than every single UW Medical School graduate.” If that is true, then every person I know in recovery has a goddamn Ph.D. in the subject of Opioids.

Lastly, the most important factor of all: Heroin addicts are at the very bottom of the priority list – because you can’t die from a Heroin withdrawal. You feel like you’re dying but you can’t actually die from a Heroin withdrawal. In fact, you can only die from alcohol and benzodiazepine withdrawal (Xanax, Klonopin, Lorazepam).

There is only one not for-profit detox center in all of King County, it has 16 beds. And when you are a drug addict fighting for one of those spots, it gets even more difficult if you are a Heroin addict. They told me to drink a six-pack to up my chances of getting into detox and I still didn’t get in. I’ve never seen the inside of a detox center in my entire life.

(CONT. ON PART V):

Jin-Ah Kim October 19, 2017 at 10:58 PM  

PART V:

So opponents of these sites will state that they support expanding treatment centers and that we should be spending more money on them instead. Well it doesn’t matter how many treatment options we open, Heroin addicts will still be at the bottom of the priority list. You’d have to open a treatment center the size of all of Swedish Hospital dedicated solely to addiction services to even come close to addressing the need we have in this area. And if we had the option of expanding treatment, don’t you think we would’ve done it already?

Opponents also cite methadone clinics as a source of crime. My opponent in my race cites the methadone clinic in Shoreline as enough already. Well just one problem with that: we don’t offer detox at those methadone clinics. That means that every addict we prescribe Methadone is essentially on it for life, indefinitely, unless they go elsewhere to get off of it later on. And for most Opioid addicts, Methadone is not the best option. Take me, for example, Methadone was the worst withdrawal of my life, worse than Heroin. It doesn’t work for all. Suboxone (or Subutex, Buprenorphine) a sublingual film that dissolves on your tongue, was a bit more effective for me because unlike Methadone, you can’t get high on top of it. It’s an Opioid blocker and because of that reason, you can take a 30-day supply home like an everyday prescription from a pharmacy unlike Methadone that you have to check in for daily (or less frequently once established into the program). But one problem with that, we limit the number of patients doctors who are licensed to prescribe Suboxone can have causing a shortage of accessibility.

I’ve always thought that I was too inexperienced, too young, and not educated enough to become a lawmaker. It turns out that I’m not. People in recovery are some of the most capable people I know. We are people who wake up broke and are rich by noon, every single day. If you want to get anything done…ask a person in long-term recovery. Frankly, we are already cheating death every single day simply by breathing clean & sober."

And please -- feel free to call me directly on my cell!
(206) 707-9220

Unknown October 20, 2017 at 9:33 AM  

Smart tax the rich till there are rich no more. So what exactly is fair?

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