EVERETT, Wash. – The city of Everett is considering adding two new Stay Out of Drug Area locations to their city, allowing police to arrest repeat drug offenders with a SODA order if they are found in the area.
Just like judges can order prostitutes to stay out of specific areas, the city of Everett is working to do the same with known drug users, making places they buy and use off limits.
The Stay Out of Drug Areas could soon include a historic city park.
“Parents won’t bring their kids here, wouldn’t back then,” said Cate Harrington, a parent who also volunteers to clean up drug needles in Everett.
Harrington and Jessica Kupcake said they remember what Clark Park used to be like, before the cleanup.
“We would call it the ‘zombie walk,’” said Kupcake. Heroin users they said would come to the park the moment it would open in the morning, and stay until it closed. “We witnessed people shooting up,” said Harrington.
For two years, Harrington has worked to get Clark Park cleaned up, and now they actively work to keep it clean every day.
“What’s protecting this park now is us,” she said.
A tool could be added to keep Clark Park clean, called SODA, Stay Out of Drug Areas. The city is considering adding Clark Park and the neighborhood around it to the list.
“It allows us to focus on those people who are repeatedly in the streets, buying and using drugs. Once you have one of those orders, then you are subject to immediate arrest if you enter into one of those areas,” said Hil Kaman, the Public Health and Safety Director for the City of Everett.
Seven sites are currently on the map as designated SODA areas in Everett. This month, the council is being asked to add two more locations, one would be on Everett Mall Way, the other would be Clark Park and the neighborhood around it.
“We won’t be cleaning up needles at this church right here, or this church right here,” said Kupcake, standing outside the park.
Police released a report to the city council asking for the additional designations. They report the problem at Clark Park is as bad as Kupcake and Harrington said. “The area around Clark Park and Everett High is experiencing a large amount of drug activity. We have received repeated complaints about drug sale and use at the park.” The report goes on to say that officers have even witnessed “people injecting themselves with heroin in sight of the school.”
If the council passes the addition, police would be able to arrest those with a SODA order without needing to even see a needle.
“It keeps the city safe and it keeps those drug users out of areas where they are likely to be susceptible to using and buying drugs,” said Kaman.
Harrington said she would like to see SODA expanded to all Everett neighborhoods, parks and schools. The city said they are doing what they can in the areas hardest hit for now, hoping offenders will stay out for good.
Everett City Council will be briefed on the SODA update Wednesday by city police.