LOCAL NEWS

SPD will no longer make arrests for drug possession after state Supreme Court ruling

Feb 25, 2021, 5:04 PM
Decriminalize drugs, addiction, drug possession, supreme court...
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Following a landmark state Supreme Court decision, the Seattle Police Department announced Thursday that it will no longer arrest individuals for simple drug possession.

WA Rep explains deeper goal behind bill to decriminalize drugs

The court’s ruling sought to end the arrest of people who are unknowingly in possession of illicit drugs. Justices cited an instance in 2016, where Spokane woman Shannon Blake was arrested in connection with three stolen vehicles. After being booked into jail, a corrections officer found a small bag of methamphetamine in the coin pocket of her jeans.

Blake was charged with possession of a controlled substance, despite claiming that she had been sold the jeans secondhand from a friend, had never previously used methamphetamine, and that the baggy was left in the pocket of the jeans without her knowledge prior to buying them.

Ultimately, the state Supreme Court ruled that drug possession charges like those filed against Blake criminalize “essentially innocent conduct,” as well as “passive conduct — or nonconduct — that is unaccompanied by (intent or knowledge of a crime).” Prior to Thursday’s ruling, the burden was on defendants like Blake to prove that they were unwittingly in possession of small amounts of drugs.

In the wake of that decision, SPD issued a news release Thursday saying that simple drug possession “is no longer an arrestable offense,” and “cannot be used as a legal basis to seize an individual.” Officers will also no longer confiscate drugs from an individual in cases related to simple possession.

Is Washington state ready to decriminalize all drug possession?

“This ruling does not impact any other charges that may be evident to officers during an encounter,” SPD clarified. “This ruling also does not limit officers’ ability to conduct investigations involving other illegal drug activity. However, officers must have reasonable suspicion or probable cause to investigate those other crimes.”

Simple drug possession was previously a felony in Washington state, punishable by up to five years in prison.

In the wake of the state Supreme Court’s ruling, advocates believe that there could potentially be “thousands upon thousands” of possession convictions that could be retroactively thrown out, including Blake’s.

Local News

Federal Way gun buyback...
Deborah Horne, KIRO 7 News

Federal Way’s gun buyback runs out of gift cards early

Hundreds of unwanted firearms were turned in Saturday in Federal Way’s first ever gun buyback. Owners received a gift card in return.
16 hours ago
Frasier...
Bill Kaczaraba

Lovable radio host Frasier returns, but not to Seattle

Frasier, the lovable but loveless radio host who put Seattle on the map will not be returning to the Emerald City.
16 hours ago
Capitol Hill shooting...
KIRO 7 News Staff

Investigation underway after man shot in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood

Police are investigating after a man was shot in the hip in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood on Saturday morning.
2 days ago
(Photo from KIRO 7)...
Julia Dallas, KIRO 7 News and Bridget Chavez, KIRO 7 News

Redmond police using vehicle-mounted GPS tracking system to track down fleeing suspects

The Redmond Police Department started using StarChase Pursuit in January to safely pursue fleeing suspects.
2 days ago
...
Deedee Sun, KIRO 7 News

Murder of Kent teacher calls attention to mental health crisis in Washington

A Tacoma mom stabbed and killed on Wednesday has been identified as 66-year-old Gail Gese, a teacher at Cedar Heights Middle School in Kent.
2 days ago
In this photo provided by the U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Northwest, a Coast Guard rescue swimmer reac...
Associated Press

Man rescued by Coast Guard wanted in ‘Goonies’ fish incident

A man who was saved by a Coast Guard rescue swimmer at the mouth of the Columbia River as a massive wave rolled the yacht he was piloting Friday was wanted for a bizarre incident in which police said he left a dead fish at the Astoria, Oregon, home featured in the classic 1985 film, "The Goonies."
2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
SPD will no longer make arrests for drug possession after state Supreme Court ruling