The easy thing for police to do when confronted with a homeless drug addict is to cuff them and haul them away for a pointless stay in the local jail. The police in Seattle are not doing things the easy way.
Rather than taking the easy way out cops in Seattle are treating these people like a public health issue rather than criminals.
They are also taking a unique approach to drug dealers in the area.
Reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer…
More than a dozen black binders, each with at least two inches of criminal evidence, were atop tables on the stage. Names were in bold and underlined on the front.
In the first three rows of the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, the suspected drug dealers named in those binders filled the red seats next to family and friends in what felt like an intervention.
“If this was an ordinary day, I would be your prosecutor,” King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg told the men and women Thursday. Some could get 20 months in prison or even more, he said.
But Satterberg wanted them to walk away.
He announced an opportunity police and prosecutors in Seattle had never given in a community meeting: Stop dealing drugs and you won’t get prosecuted.
Interim Seattle Police Chief John Diaz, had written a letter last week to the dealers. He promised that if they showed at the Central District meeting they would not be arrested and repeated that promise again Thursday.
Obviously this is quite a change from the usual manner in which most police forces deal with drug dealers and those who associate with them, but if it works then why not? What police have been doing in the past all over America obviously hasn’t been terribly successful.
Police Chief Diaz continued…
“We want to see something different happen, and I hope this will be a chance for you to take a different path,” Diaz told the suspected dealers. “This is not a joke, and it’s not a threat. You’re here because people really care about you.”
As you can see in the video below the police are actually treating the homeless and those addicted to as well as dealing drugs as, gasp, people. What a novel idea.
The full documentary can be seen tonight, Feb. 23, starting at 9/8c on PBS.