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M'ville considers Stay Out of Drug Area

Officials say the SODA ordinance in Lakewood gives them a tool to help reduce crime in that area

 

October 11, 2017 | View PDF

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The proposed limits of a new Stay Out of Drug Area that would be in north Marysville, near Lakewood and Smokey Point, if approved.

Marysville officials may approve a new "Stay Out of Drug Area" for north Marysville/Lakewood that would prevent some offenders from returning to the area.

The potential ordinance would allow for judges to give orders to individuals convicted of a drug-related crime in a particular area that would prevent them from returning to that area.

Jeff Goldman, Marysville's assistant police chief, said that the department worked with the crime statistics from the area to see where most of the crimes related to drugs occurred to draw the map of the potential area, which includes the businesses in Lakewood next to I-5 and the area just south of Smokey Point.

The department hopes the Stay Out of Drug Area (SODA) can be another tool to deter those who are using or selling drugs in the area, along with any related crimes.

Goldman said that, in part, the new ordinance came from business concerns.

"This will help businesses so that shoppers feel safer," he said. "In addition to actually reducing crime, we are helping patrons and residents feel safe, and the perception of safety is just as important."

Arlington passed their own ordinance for Smokey Point earlier this summer. Their law is called a "Stay Out of Designated Area" ordinance, but the two are nearly functionally identical.

"Throughout the nation we're all dealing with opioids and the crime that comes related to that problem," said Goldman.

Goldman said that the two jurisdictions are working together to deal with drug-related criminals in the area.

"We don't want to be pushing people into Arlington and vice versa," he said. "Both sides are working on the same page."

The potential Lakewood SODA would include the commercial area, and also the large forested area adjacent to those businesses.

"That is where drug users will often go to set up an illegal encampment," said Goldman.

"And they go in the area during the day or night, sometimes to steal or buy drugs, and then return and are pretty well hidden in those trees," he said.

The SODA is meant to complement the department's "Northern Lights" initiative, which are a number of efforts meant to reduce drug crime in the area.

"We've done a lot of work on the north side of the town, especially near Lakewood," said Goldman.

"This SODA is one more tool and layer for us to use," he said.

Goldman said that crime in that targeted area has gone down 16.2 percent since 2016.

"We're taking a holistic approach so that if you want help, there is help available for you to get clean or get housing, but if you want to cause crime, there will be consequences," said Goldman.

The Lakewood SODA would be the second time that the city has used the tool. It created a downtown Marysville SODA in 2012.

"It was part of the city's effort to help revitalize the downtown area, and we used it as a tool and a deterrent for crime in the area," said Goldman.

He said since then the SODA has been "fairly successful." Since 2014 there have been 12 orders assigned by the court for the area, which has resulted in four arrests of individuals who violated those orders.

"It allows us to immediately make an arrest if they are in the area. Their presence is the probable cause," said Goldman.

The 2012 SODA was also part of an effort to reduce drug crime in that area, known as "Southern Comfort."

Overall, in the downtown area since 2015 Goldman said there has been a 24.94 percent reduction in crime "which is pretty significant."

Specifically, in the downtown SODA area since 2013 there has been a 42 percent reduction in crime, according to Goldman.

Goldman said that reducing drug crime takes time. "It's not going to happen in a day," he said.

A new SODA in Lakewood would give an additional tool for the department to help that change.

"It's unfortunate that we have to have a Stay Out of Drug Area, but this will give us one more approach we can use," said Goldman.

The Marysville City Council discussed the new potential measure during a work session on Oct. 2 and plan to approve or reject the ordinance at a future council meeting.

 

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