ARLINGTON, Wash. — A city-wide crackdown is coming for homeless drug addicts living a lives of crime in Arlington.
A few years ago there were a handful of transient troublemakers. Police say there are now more than 200, and it’s only getting worse.
”We’re contacting new guys every single day,” said Officer Peter Barrett.
Panhandling, and shoplifting have gotten so bad police are responding to upwards of 1,300 calls a year at the city’s Walmart alone.
Addicts are taking over empty businesses, setting up camp and shooting drugs. Homeless camps are being set up next to neighborhoods where children unwittingly wander in.
Neigbors say it’s all making Arlington unlivable.
“We have people literally avoiding businesses and open places like parks because they’re afraid of being harassed. They’re afraid of being around drug dealing,” said Barrett.
Surrounding cities have adopted ordinances cracking down on transients, essentially moving them to Arlington where they have found a relatively safe haven.
Police are now putting people on notice that new laws are about to take effect banning camping on city property, outlawing aggressive panhandling and making it illegal to solicit near intersections, off ramps, parks, schools and private property.
Police are handing out fliers outlining the new laws, which, if passed by the city council, will take effect July 15. They are also telling transients about social services, and where to get sober, but the message is clear: get straight or get out.
”The message is you can’t do this here. Not anymore. It’s not going to be tolerated,” said Barrett.
The City Council is expected to vote on the new laws Monday night.