SEATTLE — King County is officially calling fentanyl a public health crisis. So far this year, the county reports more than 300 overdose deaths involving fentanyl.
Last week, a narcotics operation in the Seattle Police Department’s West Precinct led to eight people being arrested in Seattle’s downtown core. Officers seized 101 grams of fentanyl pills and 60 grams of powder fentanyl.
Rick Yoder, the owner of Wild Ginger and Triple Door, located near Third and Union, believes fentanyl is fueling the problems of theft, vandalism, and other crimes happening downtown.
“I see it day in and day out, people are walking around with foil. They have the tube in their mouth," Yoder said. "This block has been historically known for where they can buy drugs and we've got to stop that."
In March, Mayor Bruce Harrell launched Operation New Day, bringing more police officers into the Pike-Pine corridor.
"We have our good days and our bad days,” said Yoder.
He added that last Thursday was one of the bad days because a man was arrested after hurling a rock through the restaurant's window while customers were inside.
"He was back out on the street in about less than four hours,” Yoder said.
Yoder has had four windows damaged in recent months and says it will cost $20,000 to replace them all.
"This is going to put us out of business. You know, we are struggling as it is on a lot of different levels. And this just makes it worse because people feel unsafe to come down here,” he said.
The King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office said last month 26 felony drug-dealing cases were filed. The county also has a Drug Court Program to help people address crimes fueled by addiction.
On Wednesday, the Downtown Seattle Association issued the following statement regarding fentanyl use and crime downtown:
“The ongoing public safety issues on Third Avenue illustrate the need for a robust law-enforcement presence throughout downtown. DSA supports Mayor Harrell’s Seattle Police Recruitment and Retention Plan approved by the City Council Public Safety and Human Services committee yesterday. The initiative is an opportunity for our elected leaders to show their commitment to a fully staffed and responsive police department. The council should continue moving this legislation forward to ensure the security of everyone who lives, works and visits Seattle’s core.”