Marysville Police Chief: Rampant drug problem ‘plaguing our parks’

Jan 5, 2023, 5:25 PM | Updated: 8:44 pm
(KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

The City of Marysville has implemented a new law intended to combat public drug use, and the early results are favorable.

The Marysville City Council passed a law making the first offense of open-drug use punishable by jail time. City officials claim they are responding to 2021’s State v. Blake decision, a Washington supreme court ruling saying the state’s primary drug criminalization law was unconstitutional. Arrest numbers appear to be down.

According to the ACLU Washington, “the law criminalized ‘unknowing’ drug possession and people could be arrested and convicted even if they did not realize they had drugs in their possession. The Legislature’s police power goes far, but not that far.”

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“Since our new ordinance went into effect, we have tallied 10 violations of the new Marysville Municipal Code, of which at least three resulted in a physical custodial arrest,” said Marysville Police Chief Erik Scairpon on The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Because the law focuses on use, we still are conducting additional drug referrals when it is a possession-only circumstance.”

Scairpon took over as the police chief for the Marysville Police Department (MPD) after working for the Redmond Police Department for 22 years. He replaced 12-year Police Chief Rick Smith in 2020.

“It’s just simply not compassionate to allow people to continue to destroy not only their own lives but the lives of their fellow residents and visitors to your city,” Scairpon said. “But the focus on this issue is the use of narcotics in public. This is really what we’re hearing strongly from our community about. These are the things that are plaguing our parks and our areas of public visitation like grocery stores.”

He told Rantz one of the police sergeants, Derek Carlile, took a KING 5 TV news crew out to demonstrate the city’s drug issues. Within a few moments, the news crew and officers found a man passed out behind the wheel of his car. He had just smoked fentanyl, according to Scairpon.

“These are things that really need attention. Not only from the police, which we’re kind of like that last stop on the trail, right?” asked Scairpon. “But it needs treatment. It needs attention from our public health districts. It really has to be a comprehensive solution, but policing is definitely part of that solution.”

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Despite the increase in arrests, Marysville police are still actively working to help those struggling with addiction. The department works alongside social workers with resources to help get people into treatment.

“In our jail, we offer medically assisted treatment,” said Scairpon. “So if an officer does decide to make an arrest on that misdemeanor violation, we can get somebody into our jail, and we can perhaps help them get their first sober thought that they’ve had in months, giving them that opportunity to redeem their lives and the trajectory that they’re on.”

The Marysville Police Department linked a majority of property crimes to drug addiction earlier this year. Through the Law Enforcement Embedded Social Worker program, the city aims to continue helping at-risk residents through the social service system to achieve sobriety and find affordable housing.

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Marysville Police Chief: Rampant drug problem ‘plaguing our parks’