NORTH BEND, Wash. -- Police say they don’t know why heroin has become the drug of choice in east King County.
They say it’s not cheaper or more available than anywhere else, but signs of it are showing up in a growing number of illegal camps forming in the public forests.
“Since we took over on March 8, we’ve located about 39 different camps,” said Snoqualmie Police Captain Nick Almquist.
The King County Sheriff’s Office patrolled the area for years until a deal was worked out to transfer police coverage to Snoqualmie City Police in March. Since then, the homeless camp issue has become a priority.
Almquist said the camps pose a risk to people, especially children, who may be come across them on a typical hike.
Used hypodermic needles, human waste and other hazards were found in the many of the camps. As soon as they discover them, police have them cleaned up and then begin regular patrols to make sure they are not re-established.
They also find items stolen from local stores and from the backyards of neighbors living on the edges of the area’s lush forests.
Almquist said his officers try to help the homeless residents who are just looking for a place to camp. But they will not tolerate illegal activity in the woods and will destroy each camp they find.