KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Seattle Fire saw 671 OD calls in May, yet Council legalizes drugs

Jun 13, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: 9:16 pm

Seattle drug overdoses...

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - MARCH 10: Seattle police temporarily detain a man after he ran from officers following a drug deal on March 10, 2022 in Seattle, Washington. Like many cities across the United States, Seattle is experiencing a surge in crime, much of it violent, with a more than 20 percent increase last year alone and a record number of shootings. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

(Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

The Seattle Fire Department was dispatched to an astonishing 600-plus suspected drug overdose calls for just the month of May. 

Seattle Fire tracks incidents of suspected drug use. For May 2023, the total number of incidents was 671, up from 599 in April. The shocking May statistic represents a 43% year-over-year increase when the total incidents were 434. While not every call will result in a positive drug overdose case, data from Seattle-King County Public Health paints an equally stark picture, with 207 overdoses in May just in downtown Seattle. 

While Seattle Fire doesn’t track how many of the calls end up in confirmed fatal or nonfatal overdoses, Public Health offers a county-wide look at the crisis. So far this year, there have been 598 confirmed fatal overdoses (as of June 13), mostly due to fentanyl. That number will likely grow by the time you finish reading this sentence.

This data comes to light as the Seattle City Council effectively legalized drugs last week.

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Seattle defacto legalizes drug use as overdoses surge 

Last week, the Seattle City Council rejected an ordinance that gives the Seattle City Attorney’s office the ability to prosecute for public drug use and possession. On Monday, Mayor Bruce Harrell announced a 24-member work group that we’re supposed to pretend will tackle the crisis. Nothing says leadership like a workgroup that’s too large to function.

As it stands, due to Seattle Municipal Code needing an update to conform state changes classifying drug possession as a gross misdemeanor, the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office handles drug crimes. But top prosecutor Leesa Manion has said her office cannot handle these cases due to their already long backlog of more violent cases. She recommended the power be handed over to Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison. 

Heading into the vote, far-left council members Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda joined forces with socialists Tammy Morales and Kshama Sawant to oppose the plan. Council members Sarah Nelson and Alex Pederson sponsored the legislation, with support from Deborah Juarez, who isn’t running for re-election.

Dan Strauss and Andrew Lewis are two freshman council members seeking another term. Strauss voted to favor the ordinance due to political pressure. His constituents have grown tired of his office’s lack of attention to the homeless crisis, which is fueled by drug addiction, and Strauss needed to be on record supporting a fix, though his policies helped to create the crisis, to begin with. Lewis is also under political pressure, but he’s especially vulnerable to far-left activist attacks. He relied on that grassroots base to put him in office, and they expect him to mirror their drug legalization agenda. 

In the end, Lewis was the deciding vote in rejecting the ordinance. He claims to need more information on how Davison would handle the drug cases. But we already know because Davison has been open about it: she’d push addicts to treatment services, and the ones who say no and continue to break the law to feed their habit would face legal consequences. 

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Lewis is a member of the Radical Left

With his vote, which he portrayed as a tough choice for him, Lewis established himself as a reliable member of the Radical Left. He chooses ideology over reason; he backs activists over constituents. 

Even if one doesn’t believe handing this issue to the City Attorney’s office will work, we know, as a matter of fact, that the current strategy is an abject failure. The Radical Left has implemented a harm reduction strategy that purports to make illicit drug use “safer.” Rather than push for treatment, Seattle activists push clean needles, new crack pipes, and Nalxone, which can reverse overdoses due to opioid drugs. Since this strategy was adopted, and since Seattle and the county stopped prosecuting for personal possession of drugs in 2018, fatal overdoses surged, hitting new records every year.

From 2018 to 2022, fatal overdoses rose 85%, with 2023 on pace to exceed last year’s record high of 1,000 fatal overdoses. These data points indicate failure, not success, and yet the Council continues to demand more dollars go into failing programs and strategies run by the same people who have failed to deliver results (though you wouldn’t know of their failures judging by their bank accounts). 

Whether Lewis truly struggled with his vote doesn’t matter because the end result is the same. His vote means more drug addicts will needlessly die on the streets of Seattle from preventable overdoses. Their deaths should weigh heavy on his conscience.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). He is the author of the forthcoming book What’s Killing America: Inside the Radical Left’s Tragic Destruction of Our CitiesSubscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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