Snohomish County has reached a milestone in the northern part of the county with regard to the ongoing effort to combat the opioid epidemic. There remains much work to be done, but I look forward to providing a summary of recent efforts which are coming to fruition following several months of collaboration between the county, cities, and several other agencies. This last month, a press conference was held to launch the new North County Law Enforcement-Embedded Social Worker team as well as the county's new chronic nuisance ordinance. This is in addition to other efforts which have been undertaken, including the Snohomish County Diversion Center and the recent ban on heroin injection sites.

The North County Law Enforcement-Embedded Social Worker team consists of two Snohomish County Human Services social workers and three law enforcement officers: a Sheriff's Office deputy, a City of Arlington police officer, and a City of Marysville police officer. This team will venture into encampments to work with individuals who are homeless and drug-addicted in order to connect them with treatment, job training, and other services which lead to a healthier and more sustainable lifestyle. Sheriff Trenary has been leading the charge on the Snohomish County Diversion Center, a facility that Law Enforcement-Embedded Social Worker teams will be able to make use of in order to overcome some of the barriers which exist to getting individuals into treatment. Though the team did not officially begin until the beginning of this month, we have already heard some remarkable success stories in north Snohomish County.

This unified approach creates a clear dichotomy for those struggling with drug addiction and homelessness. We will do everything we can to connect these individuals with the services they need in order to get their lives back on track. This commitment is made clear by the Law Enforcement-Embedded Social Worker program and the Snohomish County Diversion Center. However, we will absolutely not tolerate or enable a lifestyle of heroin or opioid abuse, committing property crimes, and damaging neighborhoods in our communities. This commitment to community safety is made clear by recent legislation that the County Council has adopted, including the chronic nuisance ordinance and the ban on heroin injection sites.

I introduced the chronic nuisance ordinance following a ride-a-long with the Sheriff's Drug and Gang Task Force. On this ride-a-long, I learned that all too often, law enforcement's hands are tied when it comes to addressing nuisance properties with trash, squatters, etc. The goal of this chronic nuisance ordinance is to give our law enforcement more tools to get these properties cleaned up and increase the safety of our neighborhoods. Similarly, the ban on heroin injection sites makes it clear that Snohomish County will not follow some of the destructive measures other jurisdictions have taken which enable drug addiction and undermine legitimate efforts such as treatment, housing, and job training.

There is certainly a lot of work to be done with regard to tackling the opioid epidemic, but we have made great strides forward by working together. I strongly believe that the valuable partnerships which have been formed will continue to produce successful results in north Snohomish County.

Nate Nehring is a member of the Snohomish County Council and represents District 1 which includes Arlington, Darrington, Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood, and unincorporated north county. He can be reached by email at or by phone at (425) 388-3494.

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