Dealer invited to community anti-drug meeting arrested the next day
Just one day after 16 drug dealers were told by Seattle police to go straight or go to prison, one was arrested for an alleged drug crime Friday night in a section of the Central Area police are trying to clean up.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Just one day after 16 drug dealers were told by Seattle police to go straight or go to prison, one was arrested for an alleged drug crime Friday night in a section of the Central Area that police are trying to clean up.
The accused dealer had participated in a Thursday night "intervention" at which police, prosecutors, family members, friends and neighbors told the dealers they would no longer tolerate their open-air drug sales.
But Friday the dealer was back on the street and was arrested, along with another suspect, on suspicion of a felony drug offense about 8:40 p.m. at 25th Avenue East and East Cherry Street, police spokesman Mark Jamieson said.
"By no means should this be seen as a setback," Jamieson said Saturday. "We came into this project fully understanding that several individuals would be arrested or would opt out or would not follow through."
Jamieson said he didn't know the details of the allegations.
Interim Police Chief John Diaz reported the arrest following a meeting Saturday in Shoreline to discuss drug policy with Gil Kerlikowske, the former Seattle police chief and now federal drug czar; U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island; and about two dozen state and local officials.
Borrowing a tactic pioneered in High Point, N.C., Diaz gave 18 drug dealers — male and female — an ultimatum: They could come to a Thursday meeting at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Center, where they would get support to turn their lives around, or they would be arrested and prosecuted on felony drug charges.
The 16 who attended the meeting were offered drug treatment, education, job training and housing assistance — but only if they stopped selling drugs along the 23rd Avenue East corridor between Jackson and Madison streets.
One accused drug dealer missed the meeting because he was arrested in a separate case. The only other no-show now faces arrest for allegedly dealing in the Central Area.
The promise of arrest and prosecution was backed up by video clips, drug buys and other evidence collected during a yearlong investigation. "These are rock-solid cases. We wanted to make sure they understood," Diaz said.
Although several big cities recently adopted the Drug Market Intervention initiative introduced in North Carolina, Kerlikowske said it's still unclear how well it will work in larger urban settings.
"Trying to do it in a large city the size of Seattle is a challenge, but I applaud John [Diaz] and others who have taken it on," Kerlikowske said.
Kerlikowske, who was hired by President Obama as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy — a post better known as drug czar — met with Diaz, Inslee and other officials Saturday in the first of eight regional meetings to discuss drug policy.
Inslee said more attention needs to be paid to the abuse of prescription drugs, which he said accounts for 31,000 annual emergency-room visits. He also promoted his proposed Safe Drug Disposal Act 2009, which would allow unused prescription drugs, including opiates, to be collected so they aren't acquired by addicts or flushed down toilets, resulting in pollution.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org
The information in this article, originally published August 9, 2009, was corrected August 12, 2009. An accused drug dealer was arrested Friday night at 25th Avenue East and East Cherry Street. An article Sunday on a Seattle police initiative to shut down outdoor drug dealing in the Central Area incorrectly reported the address as 25th Avenue South and South Cherry Street. The article also made a reference to 23rd Avenue South; it should have read 23rd Avenue East.
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