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Sheriff Troyer: Washington state Supreme Court drug possession decision could increase crime, addiction

(Associated Press, file photo)

A landmark Washington state Supreme Court decision now says that is legal to possess illegal drugs if you didn’t know you had them, as it doesn’t prove intent to possess them (though a recent bill seeks to mitigate against the effects of the state Supreme Court’s ruling).

Pierce County Sheriff Ed Troyer joined the Dori Monson Show on KIRO Radio with his reaction to the decision.

“Well, we were all pretty stunned … It’s written so weirdly and widely that it pertains to anybody that could have illegal drugs. And we’re talking heroin, cocaine, the type of substances are coming in and just causing all kinds of detriment to our society. And right now we’re looking at the fact that we’re not going to be able to arrest on these types of drugs anymore,” he said.

While he agrees that we can’t only use arrests to solve these problems and that treatment is needed, he worries about those already being held in jail with secondary charges.

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“But all the people that are in jail are already being held on these types of cases are not going to be charged and what we’re analyzing, and the scary part about this is, say we have 100 people in jail with cocaine, heroin and all that type of possession–and I agree we can’t arrest arrest our way out of these problems and people need treatment, and I’d rather see them get treatment if it’s just simple possession,” he said.

“But now you look at some of these possessions and the secondary charge — because we arrested him for possession — is a felony possession of firearm … We’re going to lose all that, too … There’s a chance now that people that may be armed career felons, they’re arrested on illegal drug possession because it’s part of their probation, that we may not be able to charge them for felony in possession of firearms or other crimes. We may be letting a whole lot of people out of jail, and that’s going to be scary.”

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As Dori asked, the standard now is if the person with the drug says they didn’t know they had the drugs, then you can’t arrest for the drugs. But has anybody in the history of law enforcement arrested somebody with drugs who said they knew they had them? Don’t most deny knowing?

“Well, actually, a lot of times they do admit to having them because they admit to having a problem, and see that’s different. They admit to having them, admit to having a problem. You can tell signs that they’ve used them. You know, the whole bunch of different ways that that can go, and that’s usually up to the officer on the street, and they have a lot of training, they follow the law and they’re not setting people up,” Sheriff Troyer responded.

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“We’re all for trying to get people treatment because we don’t like arresting the same people over and over … But what we’ve done now is pretty much given everybody free reign and said this is legal and actually makes it more okay for people to become addicted and that’s terrible.”

He says it will ultimately encourage crime and an influx of drug dealers.

“What it’s gonna do is going to bring in drug dealers, it’s going to bring in crime. Drug dealers are still going to come in and supply the drugs because the state is sure not going to give the drugs away for free and the people that are most addicted don’t have the money to buy drugs,” he said.

“So what are they gonna do? They’re gonna go out and steal or property crimes are going to continue to skyrocket for people to afford to buy the drugs from the drug dealers that are coming in to supply the demand.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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