Within hours of Seattle’s new law criminalizing public use and possession of illegal drugs taking effect, Seattle Police made 25 arrests. After passing out leaflets explaining the new law in the morning, police returned in the afternoon to arrest violators in two neighborhoods – downtown at 3rd and Pine and in Chinatown International District’s Little Saigon neighborhood.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said that 10 of the people arrested were jailed. Eight were jailed on outstanding felony warrants (including domestic violence, rape, and assault), and two were jailed on new charges (possession with intent to distribute and possession of a stolen gun). The other 15 people were referred to the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program and thirteen of the 15 accepted referrals to caseworkers.
“We are going to be compassionate in our approach to getting people connected with services while still making sure our city streets are safe,” said Chief Diaz, adding that these arrests would not have happened without the city’s new drug law. The Chief expects similar action by the Seattle Police Department on a weekly basis.