Council votes to ban safe injection site

The Covington City Council voted 6-1 at the Nov. 28 meeting to not allow a safe injection site in Covington.

This vote came following the King County Heroin and Prescription Opiate Addiction Task Force filing a final report and recommendations in regards to safe injection sites.

It was recommended by King County Executive Dow Constantine to have two safe-injection sites within the King County limits. There will be one in Seattle and another within the county limits.

Renton, Federal Way and Auburn have also decided against a safe injection site.

Mayor Jeff Wagner said the council felt an injection site would not fit in Covington and that the city does not have the funding for one.

“The city of Covington is not a drug overuse hot spot and that’s one of the requirements that King County has set. I mean we have an issue, but it’s not a large hot spot,” Wagner said. “We (also) do not have the public safety and resources necessary to go along with that (injection site).”

Wagner said to have a successful safe injection site in Covington, they would need to increase public safety and policing.

A fear among the citizens according to Wagner is there would be an increase in crime if an injection site were to come to Covington, which means there would need for more police on duty around the injection site area.

There were community members who spoke at the last council meeting on Nov. 28 and an earlier meeting in October, telling the council their fears of a safe injection site coming to Covington. He also said there were only two people in favor of a site coming to Covington.

“The majority of them also felt that this was not a hot spot and we did not want to encourage the use of heroin in our area,” Wagner said.

He also said once a person using leaves the site, there are not enough health resources for them. Wagner added, “they go in and do their injection,” then leave and are out on the streets and there is not way to force users to stay at the site until they are off their high.

“When they come out (of injection sites) they still need treatment and we just don’t have the resources for that,” Wagner said. “It’s a disease. It’s illegal drugs, but we know the people are addicted to it. Treatment is better and there’s a lot of nonprofit organizations helping with that (drug addiction).”

According to Wagner, Covington does not have nonprofits or organizations that could help those that are addicted to drugs get the help they need.

“We as a council brought this forward because who knows what’s going to happen down the road, we just wanted to come out and have the citizens feel more at ease with this,” Wagner said.

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