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Mental Health/Addiction Facility Proposed in Documentary in Washington State
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Mental Health/Addiction Facility Proposed in Documentary in Washington State

by Leah AnayaJanuary 7, 2021

Seattle, WA – There is little debate against the fact that drugs and mental health illness is the main problem for homelessness as well as many criminal activity in many major cities, including Seattle. One reporter with KOMO News, Eric Johnson, has presented a logical and obtainable solution to the problem.

In a documentary called “Fight for the Soul of Seattle,” Johnson thoroughly documents the homelessness, drugs, prostitution, and despair that plagues the city streets. Then he presents a solution he has called Hope Haven. Hope Haven is a two-facet involuntary holding facility for those in mental health or addiction crisis. One side is maximum security while the offender detoxes, while the other side is where the subject receives mental health services, counseling, and even vocational assistance and classes.

Johnson outlines the contributing factors to the decay of Seattle, which include the prosecutors not prosecuting crimes, City Council pushing for a “poverty defense” which essentially decriminalizes over 100 misdemeanor crimes, activists demanding the police be defunded, and more.

In the documentary, Johnson narrates, “It’s a perfect storm here, really: Prosecutors that won’t prosecute, a city council that doesn’t want them to, judges that are lenient because they damned well better be, county executives shutting down jails, cops that have been undermined, and services that nibble around the edges of a crisis because we can’t seem to get it through our heads that the drugs are too strong, too barbaric to fight with hopes and wishes and Seattle’s special brand of compassion.”

The Hope Haven method would bring to light the overwhelming issues that until now we have not been able to get a handle on. Police reform is meaningless and will not help the public if the same problems exist with the same people out on the same streets. Arresting people 15 times and seeing them out within a few hours doing the same thing that got them arrested in the first place because they literally have no other options or no motivation to change their ways does nothing for the betterment of community.

Marco Monteblanco, President of the Washington Fraternal Order of Police, told LENN, “The Washington Fraternal Order of Police is highly supportive of the Hope Haven facility or similar as presented in Eric Johnson’s documentary for KOMO News, Fight for the Soul of Seattle. Police are expected to be the catch-all for most of a community’s problems, and that’s just not realistic, nor is it best for the community as a whole.

“We hear the demands for police reform, and we aren’t against that. We are strong advocates of improving our state’s mental health and drug addiction services, which are both major driving forces in a large percentage of the homelessness and crime in Washington State.

“A facility like Hope Haven is a real solution to problems that all stakeholders want addressed and we are more than willing to discuss how we can assist in making this a reality.”

In the documentary, Johnson points out that it is a costly endeavor to pursue. However, as Representative Andrew Barkis said during his interview with Johnson, there is money. There is a lot of money, they just don’t want to spend it on something like this.

Johnson also spoke with retired King County Judge Ed McKenna, who was more or less forced to resign after refusing to be lenient on a repeat violent offender. Judge McKenna said, “It’s not always about offenders. It’s about protecting the community. And right now, I think there’s a lot of frustration because the community doesn’t really feel like they’re being protected.”

McKenna continued, “You have one giant social experiment that’s going on in Seattle, and it doesn’t take a scientist to see that the experiment is rapidly failing. Imposing social justice as opposed to criminal justice.”

Meanwhile, the former Seattle public safety advisor, Scott Lindsay, said, “The Council is proposing we eliminate any and all accountability and just ‘ramp up’ services. That’s not going to work.

“My approach would be to blend the accountability and services. Leverage, where appropriate, the criminal justice system to get folks the treatment and the services that they need to actually protect themselves and protect the public.”

This type of approach is what a Hope Haven facility would bring. And Lindsay’s thoughts are backed up by several former addicts who bravely agreed to speak with Johnson on camera. Those people, Ginny Burton, Thomas Wolf, and Representative Barkis’ own son, Cameron, spoke to Johnson saying that offering someone in the height of his meth or heroin addiction services, or even just offering them shelter, has not and will not work. They all say that those suffering addiction or mental health crises need to be forced into getting help, for their own good as well as the good of the community.

As Lindsay pointed out, “At the end of the day, we have to think first of the greater good. We have 700,000 plus population in the City of Seattle. That 2-3000 population can’t overtake and subsume the larger public interest of a livable city, of the remaining 700,000 plus folks who live here, and the hundreds of thousands of folks who work here, and the millions of folks that want to and do visit Seattle in pre- and post-COVID times.”

Further, he said, “I want to be on camera saying this: We will have many deaths over the course of 2021 at these locations [homeless camps where police are no longer allowed to go] if we don’t disrupt them. That is Council’s plan, and Council will have blood on their hands. Absolutely.

“People are going to die. They’re gonna be shot. They’re gonna be stabbed. They’re gonna be raped. Because the Council refuses to let us, let the City, protect the public interest and protect the interests of those living there by saying ‘No, you can’t do that. Stop. This is not safe. It’s not healthy.’ We need to be able to draw a line somewhere.”

Lindsay pointed out that advocates insist that intervention must be reserved for when people ask for help and are ready to accept services. To that, Lindsay said, “Here’s my counter argument: We can’t wait. They’re putting way too much stress on this City.”

About The Author
Leah Anaya
Leah Anaya
Leah Anaya is a medically retired police officer. She served for three years at the Oakland Police Department, and just under five at a department in Washington State. Before that, she was an intelligence analyst in the US Army. She is now a stay at home mom living with her husband, who is still serving as a police officer, and their three children. She also grew up as the daughter of a police officer in California. Leah is now a writer and Deputy Editor at Law Enforcement News Network as well as the Business Manager for Washington State FOP. She's a peer support advocate for The Wounded Blue and Serve and Protect. You can find her on social media @leahmsanaya or at www.leahanaya.com.
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