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Don: In Pierce County, they still use handcuffs

(AP file photo)

Anytime we have Detective Ed Troyer, the PIO of The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department on our radio show, the text lines light up in support.

Pierce County is taking a very different approach to the opioid-homeless-camping crisis. Troyer explained this week that they will offer you a job, they will offer you services, and then they will offer you a pair of handcuffs if you are illegally camping and committing crimes in the county.

The approach has sent a clear message to campers in Pierce County that the campground is closing.

RELATED: Depending on how you count, half of King County homeless are local

So how does that affect King County? Troyer told us that the mayor and the Seattle City Council are definitely taking a different approach by keeping the campgrounds open. He told us that many of the campers they talk with end up leaving their area, and heading to Seattle “because they hear how well they will be treated there and how good the services are.”

With King County now owning the third largest homeless population in the county, maybe it is time for a different approach.

I was recently talking with a Seattle police officer, too. This individual said they are being forced to de-police, offer services where people pick and choose what they want, and police now often look the other way when it comes to open heroin use. They were also concerned that there is a large population of campers moving in from out of town.

It is very clear the City of Seattle has become a mark for criminals masquerading as homeless and they come from all over the country. Why wouldn’t they? Camp where you want to, the city and state will provide a cleaning service, food service will be available, and there is no penalty for open air drug use, or abuse. These criminals can break into our homes, our businesses, our cars, and our campers. They can also sleep and discard their needles in the parks and play fields. Spray parks, which use to be an indicator that summer had arrived in the Pacific Northwest, have now been taken away from our kids and they have become outdoor bathing areas for many of these individuals. And as far as camping goes, you can set a tent up along Lake Washington, Lake Union, or in The Arboretum, with no push back.

RELATED: Can we at least agree that selling drugs in front of Seattle City Hall is wrong?

King County politicians will tell you the city’s homeless are all home-grown and that this crisis is because of the tech industry. That’s not true. Over the past year, I have personally visited over 20 of these encampments and the campers I talk to are rarely from King County. They have come from all over the country because of our lenient approach to policing heroin and break-ins, the food and clothing we provide, and the fact that you can virtually camp anywhere you want to in King County. How can we be the 14th largest metro in the country, but we rank third in homelessness? It’s because Mayor Jenny Durkan and the Seattle City Council do not have the courage to close the campgrounds like they are in Pierce County.

You can build as many tiny homes as you want, but as long as you keep offering free services without any type of accountability, and people are allowed to camp where ever they want, criminals are going to continue to flock to King County. They are flocking here from all over the country, and now from surrounding counties.

People will say Pierce County is being callous and heartless when it comes to these homeless campers. It actually takes a lot of grit and courage to take this problem head-on instead of allowing it to metastasize the way it has in the Emerald City.

Before Detective Troyer hung up the phone with us this week, he emphasized how important it is to help the truly downtrodden among us. But for those taking advantage of our good and neighborly nature here in the Northwest he said, “In Pierce County we still use handcuffs.”

In the City of Seattle, are cops even allowed to carry those things anymore?

I’ll see you at 3 on the radio.

~ don

Don O’Neill

“THE RON AND DON SHOW’

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