Seattle, King County move forward with proposed safe injection sites

Seattle and King County gave the go-ahead to move foward with two safe injection sites during a meeting on Friday, Jan 27, 2017. (Photo: KOMO News)

SEATTLE - Our area could soon be home to the first two government-run heroin injection sites in the entire country.

Seattle and King County gave the go-ahead to move foward with the sites on Friday.

Shiloh Murphy, who runs a needle exchange in the Univeristy District alley, believes safe injection sites are badly needed.

"We would love to have a safe consumption room here because we have drug users in the University District," said Murphy.

After picking up fresh needles, some heroin users walk down the alley to Cafe Allegro.

"We get hit with it," said Cafe Allegro owner Chris Peterson. "We'rve actully put in a sharps container in there so to keep my staff from cleaning it up,."

The cafe's owner is not alone, it's happening city-wide, including in the bathroom at the downtown Seattle Nortdstrom store.

Last weekend, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, tweeted a photo of a used needle found in the restroom, and supported the need for supervised heroin injection locations.

"People are in danger, people are dying in our community and we have to take this absolutely seriously," King County Executive Dow Constantine said durnig a meeting on Friday.

Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are now going forward with recommendations from an Opiate Addiction Task Force.

The controversial: two safe consumption sites, modeled after the only one in Vancouver, B.C. - the only on in North America - where addicts use under the eyes of a nurse and receive treatment if wanted.

"Those financial challenges, which are more difficult based on the actions of the new administration this week," said Mayor Murray, referring to President Trump's threat to pull federal funds from sanctuary cities like Seattle.

There's also the issue of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

"We don't have the federal government coming in here and looking over our shoulder, making marijuana arrests and I don't expect that to change," said King County Sheriff John Urquhart. "I have complete confidence they are going to do the right thing."

But, heroin is illegal everywhere and no one admitted to ever talking to the DEA - and felt they don't have to because it's considered a public health emergency.

"We don't routinely and haven't in this case sought any other authority, we don't think we need to," said King County Health Officer Dr. Jeff Duchin.

KOMO Contacted the DEA, which referred us to the Justice Department, which through it's new leadership - a spokesman said, "no comment."

The locations and funding of the safe injection sites have not been announced.

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