Citizens for a Safe King County announced I-27, a King County initiative for this November’s ballot to ban heroin injection sites, last week.
The group’s chairman, Joshua Freed, was joined by Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way; Rep. Morgan Irwin, R-Enumclaw; members of local neighborhood groups; and Corri Durant, a Seattle resident whose brother recently died from complications stemming from years of heroin abuse.
In September of 2016, a task force assembled by King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray recommended the county build two controversial sites — one in Seattle and one outside the city limits — for heroin users to inject heroin while government employees monitor them to ensure they don’t overdose.
“If our goal is to save lives, then we should be getting people off heroin not creating places for them to use,” Freed said.
The group began collecting signatures following the press conference and will need 47,443 by July 31 to qualify for the November ballot.
“I have no doubt Safe King County will collect the necessary signatures,” Miloscia said. “I have been touring the county talking to regular folks over the last several months and I haven’t found one person outside of downtown Seattle that supports these dangerous, illegal sites.”
If King County goes through with their plan to build two heroin injection sites, they will be the first of their kind in the United States. Constantine and Murray have pointed to Vancouver, B.C.’s heroin injection site, Insite, as proof of their success, but Freed disagreed.
“Since Insite opened in 2003, overdose deaths have increased by 450 percent while the population in B.C. has only grown 15 percent. That’s not a model of success,” Freed said.
Irwin, a Seattle police officer, spoke of his own experiences dealing with the opioid epidemic in Seattle’s south precinct.
“Heroin addicts don’t change until they’re ready to change, and we’re making it easier for them not to change with heroin injection sites. These sites will extend their addictions, and the damage addictions cause, by years,” he said.
Any registered voter in King County is eligible to sign I-27, and the group announced voters can request a petition be mailed them on their website: www.SafeKingCounty.org. If the measure qualifies, it will be the first King County initiative on the ballot since 2008.