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“Seattle is Dying” is the name of a KOMO news documentary aired last month by veteran reporter Eric Johnson. In just a few weeks from its original airing on the Seattle news station, the YouTube video has gone viral in epic proportions. It already has attracted more than 2.3 million views and, to date, it’s been shared more than 40,000 times on Facebook. If you haven’t done so, please consider watching this compelling documentary about how Seattle has allowed a homeless faction of drug-addicted and mentally ill criminals to go unchecked as they work to destroy the quality of life in the Emerald City. Just search “Seattle is Dying” on YouTube. 

There are several big takeaways from the documentary. Seattle residents are disgusted and embarrassed by the mess in their once beautiful city. The homeless crisis is really a drug-addiction crisis. That fact is being ignored by elected leaders in the region who continue to spend upwards of $1 billion annually yet fail to find meaningful solutions to address the serious problems. Each day it gets worse for business owners, residents, and families. Illegal homeless camps have taken over city parks, cemeteries, and streets.

Cops are not allowed to enforce the law on homeless people. And when homeless criminals break the law and are taken into custody, prosecutors and judges set them free so they can go back out on the street and commit the same crimes again. The property crimes rates in Seattle are now among the worst in the nation, second only to the city of San Francisco, likely because the two cities share the same brand of ineffective governance.

Fortunately, the “Seattle is Dying” documentary offers solutions that are working in the State of Rhode Island. There, homeless criminals are being prosecuted for their crimes, locked up and treated for their addictions. They are receiving the mental health care they need along with valuable job training while they are safely behind bars. Rhode Island is effectively fixing their homeless crisis but it all starts with law and order. 

The signs of homelessness are multiplying in Clark County. Recently, I’ve noticed a greater number of homeless people in Southwest Washington. Some are living on the streets, in tents, or under freeway overpasses. Others are camped out in junked-out RVs. The campers move from parking lot to parking lot at local big box stores. In downtown Vancouver, the homeless problem gets worse with each passing month. Will city leaders in Vancouver fall into the same trap as Seattle, by allowing compassion for drug addicts to trump law and order? Will city leaders in Vancouver, Camas, Battle Ground, Ridgefield, and Washougal learn from Seattle’s horrific mistakes that are costing the taxpayers more than $1 billion annually? Before this problem gets any bigger, leaders across the county should unite around a model similar to what’s working in Rhode Island. 

As citizens, we must remind our elected representatives they work for us and the responsibility of maintaining a safe community rests squarely on their shoulders. This means local city and county leaders must give law enforcement professionals the authority to do their job and lock up those who commit crimes against citizens. Prosecutors and judges must impose proper sentencing so the healing can begin for these unfortunate souls because everyone deserves a second chance to live a meaningful life.

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