Monday, August 10, 2009

Seattle Tries Unusual Drug Strategy

Last week, Seattle Police contact a group of small-volume drug dealers.  The cops had plenty of evidence to successfully prosecute the dealers, but the contact didn’t include arrests.  Instead, the repeat offenders and known small-volume dealers were invited to a community meeting.  That’s right, they were invited to a community meeting, and no arrests were made.  Instead, Seattle police and county prosecutors held a community drug impact meeting and asked the dealers to remain after the public meeting broke up.  In a nearly unique approach (I know of only one other example, in North Carolina, where it has worked well for a couple years now by all accounts), the law enforcement officials outlined for the dealers what they were proposing.  The deal:  you guys quit dealing now, and we will not prosecute you.

Crack cocaine bags

Eighteen dealers attended the meeting and it sounds more like a Rotary meeting than a get-together of drug dealers.  City Attorney Tom Car said that the attendees were networking, getting contact information from each other, police and county prosecutors.  “They were in a kind of shock”, he said, and the frustrations that police have had with constantly re-arresting the same small-volume guys seemed at times to be a kind of drug-dealer Whack'-a-mole.

The attendees were informed of the evidence against them, but were told that if they stopped the dealing now, they would not be prosecuted.  Police are not making the same offer to big-time drug sources, but for the small-volume guys it amounts to one free pass.  The community presence at the first part of the meeting serves a purpose as well:  it lets the dealers know that the community has tired of their activity and will not be so ready to look the other way in the future.  It is a type of peer pressure that seemed to make an impression.  Police also provided drug treatment counselors and resources after the meeting in an effort to make it as easy as possible for the small-volume dealers to make a break with their past.

If the project is successful in the Central District indications are that it will be rolled out in other parts of Seattle.  The real question is, how long will this work?  So far, it has worked for a couple years in North Carolina.  Seattle is yet to be determined. 

Seattle Times

King 5 TV

Seattle P-I

My Northwest News


Sunday, August 09, 2009

Don’t be Afraid to See What You See*

I’ve always thought that this brief sentence was profound.  So many times we are afraid to see things as they really are, whether because of fears, ideology, embarrassment,whatever.  What is really happening will go ahead and happen whether we acknowledge it or not, and sometimes the consequences of avoiding or ignoring what is happening can be pretty serious.  An example:  Well, most people who have heart attacks don’t acknowledge that they are having a heart attack.  Perhaps they are afraid of dying, or afraid that it will be embarrassing if they call an ambulance but turn out to just have gas.  I’m sure there are myriad reasons why we don’t acknowledge the reality that we are having a heart attack,but the reality is that about half of us deny that little voice inside us when it says “You’re having a heart attack.”  This advice, taken to heart and applied just to heart attacks would save thousands of lives each year.  

In a more ethereal, but no less important way, it is impossible to achieve deep personal emotional development without accepting this simple idea.  Psychologists understand that we are only able to fully develop as people, parents, artists, athletes, leaders, etc, if we are willing to look at ourselves and accept the truth of what we see.  Introspection is the essential ingredient in personal development, and in achieving our potential in most every activity or role we play in life.  Without the willingness to ‘see what we see’; to examine our actions, motivations, beliefs and desires, we simply cannot adapt them, or adapt our behaviors to achieve better results or deeper fulfillment, happiness, etc.

I believe that most of the time, we know what our failings and shortcomings are, just as we know most of the things we need to do to accomplish the things we desire.  Sometimes we choose to acknowledge these, and we are able to improve upon them and achieve, or find deeper personal fulfillment.  To a large extent the role of a therapist, coach, clergyman, etc., is to facilitate in us a greater level of introspection.  I know that they also provide information that helps in our development (dribble the ball with your fingertips, for example), but a large part of what they do is help us to face our fears and see what we see.

“Accept the things to which fate binds you… Love the people with whom fate brings you together…do so with all your heart.”   ---Marcus Aurelius


*-I am only giving attribution for the quote here at the end because I wanted to avoid the extraneous prejudices and resulting sidetracking of the idea that various opinions of the person to whom this quote is attributed would have caused.  The quote is attributed to Ronald Reagan.


Sunshine on Discovery Bay

Sunshine on Discovery Bay
As always, the photos we use are either my own, or in the public domain. Please let me know if there are any errors and I'll correct them immediately.