Seattle is Dying | A KOMO News Documentary




let me ask you something

what if seattle is dying and we don't

even know it

this story is about a seething simmering

anger that is now

boiling over into outrage it is about

people who have felt compassion

yes but who no longer feel safe no

longer feel like they are heard

no longer feel protected it is about

lost souls who wander our streets

untethered to home or family or reality

chasing a drug which in turn chases them

it is about the damage they inflict on

themselves to be sure

but also on the fabric of this place

where we live

this story is about a beautiful jewel

that has been violated

and a crisis of faith amongst a

generation of seattleites

falling out of love with their home

there is another part of this story too

it's about a solution

an idea for a city that has run out of


and i ask again what if seattle is dying

and we don't even know it

i drive my uh 12 year old's carpool

through yesler when we do carpool and

it's a good talking point about you know

what they're seeing what we can do to

help you know how we can make a

difference and honestly at this point

i don't have a good answer for how we

can make a difference

the last five to ten years it's not the


that i grew up in and it's been really


matt campbell lives and works in seattle

he's raising a family

and like many others he's mad it's uh

it's gotten to a point where i'm

embarrassed of it

i i don't want to have my friends and

family come here anymore

people didn't used to use the word

embarrassing about seattle

but if you listen closely you'll hear it

a lot now

you know it's embarrassing this is this

is one of the most beautiful regions in

the entire world

and right now with lack of a better word

it looks like and it's embarrassing


this is merdot derek shande he runs an

upholstery shop in ballard near the

burke gilman trail

see if you can't feel his frustration

this is just this this is just

a bunch of this is not right

out his window he looks at this oh

they're here with me yes i'm a human

being too

customers coming to his shop see the

same thing i have

known cops from compton watts

south central they have some power in

their hand

here you see a bunch of twinkle toes

running around here

what the heck because they're on the

city like that

they're having problems they're having

problems they're not having enough


there were fires set outside his shop

this past summer and mr derek shande

does not blame police

he believes their power has been

stripped away the city

mayor doesn't give the cops authority

that's the problem we need somebody with

some weights and tell them it's not

legal living on the sidewalk

it's city ordinance it's not legal

living here

why can't we enforce the law


last may 2nd at a town hall meeting in


simmering anger boiled over into all-out


so why do we see so many people living


will you manage these camps

and will you enforce the law

there has evolved a profound disconnect

and rarely has it been more vividly laid


than in this exchange if property crime

is committed

violence is committed you need to call


you've lost all credibility when you say

you said two words you said call 911.

do you understand that the police have

told us

to vote you all out so that they can do

their jobs

and you're telling us call 9-1-1

you're smiling you think it's funny

you think it's funny the way we're

living the way we're living

in beautiful seattle people are angry


about the way we are living

let's look for a moment at property

crimes for the 20 biggest cities in the


new york city in 2017 had 1448 property

crimes per

100 000 residents los angeles was just

over 2500

chicago 3263 and look at seattle

5258 the only major city with the worst

number is san francisco

which is dealing with the same problems

for the same reasons that we are

they top the 6 000 mark it's not your


the crime here the burglaries the theft

the stealing of cars

is worse than in other big cities and in

most cases

it's way worse


and then you walk down the street and

you see a wretched soul like this

consumed by demons maybe madness maybe


maybe both this is what suffering looks


this is pain ranting and raving

screaming silently coming completely

unraveled before our eyes

and then tomorrow he'll wake up and

relive the nightmare

all over again starving

eating trash from a garbage can look at

the people walk by

of course they're not shocked how could

they be they see it every day

how can this be who we are how can this

be what we allow

how did the word compassion get twisted

into this sickening reality

the puget sound business journal

estimates that seattle and its outlying

areas spend

one billion dollars addressing and

responding to the homeless situation

every year and they say that number is

almost certainly underestimated

non-profits city and county budgets

police calls to homeless camps

hospital services building tiny houses

drug treatment and outreach

picking up needles clearing out camps

garbage details chain link fencing

and the more money we throw at the

problem the worse it gets

but of course what is happening in king

county and on the streets of seattle

isn't about

dollars it's about human lives how can


be the right thing to do how can

watching human beings live and die in

filth and degradation and madness

be right the cost isn't a billion

dollars a year

the cost is quality of life the cost is

people not wanting to take their

families downtown anymore

families not feeling safe in their own

neighborhoods the cost is people no

longer feeling like they are her

no longer feeling protected the cost is

people dying in the streets

and the rest of us getting used to

seeing it numb to the suffering

the cost is incalculable how did we get

to this point


this is a list of familiar faces repeat


people who break the laws get caught get


and break the laws again and again and


there are a hundred names on the list

scott lindsey is the man who dived into

public records

and researched the list take somebody

into the jail don't give him meaningful

help and then put them right back out on

the streets we know they're going to

commit the same crimes in the same


and our public records our criminal

justice records really show that that's

exactly what's happening look at the

sheer volume of criminal cases

calvin a 68 criminal cases since 2002

repeated random assaults on random


draynon b 54 criminal cases since 2016.

michelle c 72 cases since 2000

and the list goes on and on seattle's


says this it is wrong to conflate


with a rise in crime for at least 100

people it would at the very least

appear to be a factor of the 100 that

you looked at what

percentage of them were homeless yeah

from our criminal justice records 100

percent had indicators that they were

currently homeless and what percent

showed signs of addiction yeah 100 also

showed signs of a substance use disorder

and what percent uh were mentally ill

yeah a little less than half had been


by the courts formally for

mental health conditions serious severe

mental health conditions

on average the people on the list had 36

criminal cases each in the state of


and seven jail bookings in the last year

what this report also shows is that the

police are working hard

they're making contacts they're making

arrests for criminal behaviors

of again the same people in the same

places over and over and over what i

think we need to focus on

is what is our criminal justice system

doing to support those police officers

the 100 names had between them more than

3600 criminal cases

for the most part few have done serious


they are out in our communities walking

our streets

the drain on the system the drain on

resources and

manpower is incalculable the fact that

this system could go on

with in effect 100 failure rate for so


without anybody raising questions

without city council

hosting hearings without any action

being taken

is something that it's hard for me to



richard padden is 55 years old born and

raised in seattle he works for the

county he looks around at seattle's

post-apocalyptic landscape

and is amazed but this is this border's

not insane

i mean we're allowing ourselves to

participate in an insane

practice that that is affording people

it's heartbreaking it's heartbreaking

richard started a facebook page called

seattle looks like [ __ ] it's not meant

to be funny

it's meant to be sad pictures speak for


uh i started grabbing a few photographs

in the area posting those

and and the the name of the site as i

drive around look i just

say to myself seattle looks like we're

fed up with it

i was fed up with that's why i started

the page day after day

one after another the pictures on the

page from every corner of the emerald


paint a picture of rots and filth that

is being allowed to fester

on the streets and in the lots and under

the overpasses

of a once proud city


it looks like a third world it looks you

know junkyardish

i'm not heartless but i don't see

i don't see that what we're doing now is

helping anybody

and it hasn't gotten better


seattle police are afraid to speak out

for two years we've tried to get cops to

talk about what they see every day

about what's really happening on the

streets and behind the scenes

more than once the word terrified was

used cops are terrified of losing their

jobs and pensions

terrified of retaliation and so we put

out some generic questionnaires which

were filled out

by completely anonymous police officers

their responses

are eye-opening frightening and at times


one officer wrote simply yes i am

frustrated because i'm a law enforcement


that is told not to enforce the law

another wrote

it's simple start keeping criminals in


judges need to stop giving them

ridiculously low sentences

and prosecutors need to stop accepting

cheesy plea deals

and actually lock people up when they

commit a crime

that's all it would take to drastically

lower seattle's crime rate

another officer said people come here

because it's called

freedom and they believe if they come

here they will get free food

free medical treatment free mental

health treatment a free tent

free clothes and will be free of

prosecution for just about everything

and they're right it didn't used to be

that way

law enforcement officers used to be able

to enforce the laws

this officer continues in the last five

years there has been a culture shift and

it started with the legislature

decriminalizing felonies and dumping

convicts onto the streets

and then there is this an officer says

even if quality warrant arrests are made

the judicial system sees fit to let them

out of jail within a couple of days

often the next day why are we risking

our lives to take felony level fugitives

into custody

if they're just going to be released

prosecutors office and

judges alike seem to be drinking all the

kool-aid causing a huge disconnect

and a broken system with absolutely no


that is travis bergie stretching out

before we interviewed him

he came from reno four years ago he's a


a big personality and he has problems

you're a user right

um what's your drug of choice um i use

methamphetamines yeah

and i try to at least use it once a day

but i i don't really consider myself a

drug abuser

the [ __ ] is amazing you like the man i

love it

remember that list of familiar faces

travis is on it

34 criminal cases in four years things

like assault

attempted rape trespassing you're on a

list you know

nice there's a list of the 100 they came

out with the hunt 100

frequent flyers friendly faces


of all the entire which one am i which

number on the list yeah

oh you're up there nice you're up there

i was just saying

like i've definitely been the most in

seattle darren

t travis put the bike down travis this

is body cam footage of an incident on

first and pike a little more than a year


travis what's up what's up

hey come on travis travis hey

travis put the bike down it started with

property destruction

and escalated into assaulting police


a bunch of cops were deployed stand up

so we can get out of here

fergie spit on them

[ __ ] them hey no biting don't bite

yourself either

stand up travis we're going to the

gurney here's the girl it lasted hours

well i'm actually not even high right

now travis is outrageously

unapologetic about his life and his


he could care less about yours do you

steal for your habit

i actually just started stealing last

monday i

started stealing and um

oh my god dude that was one of the

hardest sacrifices

is to like do unrighteous things in

front of my dudes

travis just relax travis do you want to


travis you want a smoke or a candy bar

but um will you continue to do that oh

i'm having a blast now

it is so much fun what should the system

do with a guy like you

um i think that this system has has done


what any viable

um legitimate system would

and they've really like exalted me uh

and like shown uh deference and and

and like i don't feel like i'll ever be

arrested again

i haven't been in jail for like a year


three months or so you know so a change

like that

responding to a big change

definitely shows that uh i have

conquered the criminal justice system

want to know the sad part the truly

frustrating part

he's probably right


there was a police officer named todd

wiebke he prided himself on getting his

boots dirty

on meeting the people on the fringes in

the camps he tried to find common ground

as human beings

and he tried to police he wrote a blog

for a long time

first person musings about patrolling

what happens in the dark shadows of west


not long ago he wrote this this week i

dealt with crisis

with narcotics with heartache and with


sometimes all at once sometimes one at a


i am helpless to unlock the doors when

dealing with a person trapped in a

horror inside

of their own mind lord i try but i am a

limited man with just a little skill

i still love coming to work we have an

awesome city with the ability to adapt

and overcome

the only way to lose is to not try we

are trying to solve this crisis

and we will not lose and then one day

this past october

todd wiebke was told by one superior to

impound an rv and clean up the spot

and when he did it another superior

scolded him for doing so

because of new protocol he had a belly


and he walked into hr and he quit


just like that i feel like i abandoned

the ship that i walked away that and and

i did because i couldn't do it anymore

it was just the bureaucracy built up to

the point where

i felt like i was no longer necessary as

a police officer that the system had a

different idea of how they wanted to

handle it

and i was an appendix i needed to be

gone so

i'm gone ask anyone they'll tell you

this was a good cop

the kind we want out there the kind we


but i will tell you that there is no


there's a love for the job he says the

drugs the camps the theft

the rot and the disgrace of it all don't

have to destroy

seattle they're being allowed to

everybody's trying to do the right thing

is just coming out wrong listen to these

next words carefully

let them sink in you know i've said it

before and i'll say it again that the

only thing i can equate it to

is we're running a concentration camp

without barbed wire

up to and including the medical

experiment of poisoning these people

with drugs i i don't know how else to

put it and it's

infuriating every camp i walk into there

was a weapon

multiple weapons i found modified


i was constantly on the side of the road

talking to people that were swinging


holding an axe armed with knives our


has even gone so far as to say well this

much of of

of narcotics on your persons okay three


yeah hey that's okay um so that's user


so you know when you start you know that


and people feel secure and okay having

their drugs on them

what's to stop them from doing it how do

you now

you're pretty much okaying narcotics and

the same officers that used to go out

there and arrest them

are now rendered impotent and can't do

anything about it

and it's just a matter of political will

on the part of our city to go out there

and say hey you can't park your

motorhome in this driveway

with no engine in it with all this filth

around it

you can't do it it's wrong

and stop them i gotta say man this is

really nice i am in heaven he's in

hobart now

he bought a horse ranch and shares it

with his family and these friends

so this is griff here the white guy

all right they're a little nervous of

the camera so horses are amazing

they they are 900-pound chickens

and before we left this good cop who is

now an ex-cop

there was one more question for him and

if you live in the city that todd wiebke

used to patrol

if the people you love and take care of

are here with you trying to live a good


then his answer should send shivers down

your spine

let me ask you this knowing what you

know having seen what you've seen

if you had a young family would you

raise them in seattle right now

absolutely not

not even no



there is a cemetery in seattle a jewish


campers and rvs parked next to it and


this man r.e hoffman this shouldn't be

happening in civilized society

says the cemetery has been violated

repeatedly prostitutes were working the

woods drug addicts were working the

woods our groundskeepers come in on

monday morning

and they find everything from a weekend

of fun which is needles in the ground

crystal meth on the tombstones other


garbage they leave their garbage outside

they see feces on the tombstones

that's left over from whatever happened

the night before by the way the name of

the cemetery is

beaker haleem it means helping those who

are sick

you're mad aren't you i'm furious i'm

beyond furious

this has pushed me to a whole new limit

let's get the sandbags off this one and

we're going to pull the whole thing

forward ari has a company that sets up

bouncy houses at concerts and festivals

he says it's not just the jewish

cemetery that's being desecrated

it's everywhere and i used to say this

place is great because the streets are

so clean it's so beautiful you walk down

the streets now they smell like urine

the cemeteries are being desecrated

people can't go to parks with their kids

because there's needles everywhere

my office bullets come flying through

the windows at us it's

out of control it's non-stop and this we

we deserve better

and it's all preventable it's all

avoidable it's all

fixable it didn't have to get like this

i wish i had faith in my government

but after two meetings with council

members and nothing's changed

i don't really expect anything to change

we're gonna have to do this ourselves

thanks for coming down guys

yeah absolutely appreciate it a couple

of months after that interview was done

ari hoffman who was thrust into the

spotlight because he voiced his outrage

who had no political aspirations of any

kind and who was urged by friends and

frustrated citizens

decided to run for city council and he

has no future political aspirations

beyond the council

the other day he said i want to fix


and then go back to work


a report received is when police file a

report of a case

requesting that the city attorney's

office file charges on behalf of the


back in 2006 for every 100 reports


25 of them didn't get filed how times

have changed

in 2016 the latest data we have for

every 100 police reports

46 of them almost twice as many didn't

get filed

nothing happened at all they were

completely ignored of the remaining 54

of the original 100

one-third of them were then outright


thrown out another third were listed as


with no resolution so only 18 of the

original 100 reports filed by police

actually result in convictions 18

and of those 18 convictions after plea

deals and lenient sentences

very few cases end up with anyone really

being held accountable

those are 2016 numbers we have no reason

to believe the trends haven't continued

since then


the real homeless you don't see

out-of-work truckers or construction

workers who've run into bad luck don't

live like this

in tents on mud patches this is

something different this is drugs

heroin meth citizens know it can we at


acknowledge the elephant in the room

that this is also a drug

problem i've only heard it being

mentioned as a housing problem

this is a drug problem the quote unquote


know it too i have not met anyone else

on the street who's not

in some phase of addiction i mean

of use of serious use and i think that

that's the starting point you just have

to address

that you have to figure that out so i

want to make sure i got that correct

i would say 100 of the people that i

have met out here are in some level of


a hundred percent yeah every single

person every single person i've met out


but listen closely we constantly refer

to it as a homeless crisis

not a drug crisis the fractured siloed

approach of homelessness in our region

to help combat

the homelessness epidemic crisis we have

a crisis

around housing and homelessness if we

won't even name the thing that is


seattle what hope do we have of fixing



matt markovich is a reporter for como

he's out in the camps

amongst the homeless and the addicted

almost every day yeah that's the woman

that i've been talking with right over

there she's uh

running they're trying to make this a

park and she's leading the spearhead

effort that woman who lives right there

is that right what will it take for you

to get off the street

matt is responsible for como's project

seattle stories

his is a unique perspective a frequent

witness to the underbelly of the emerald


with the eye of a reporter it's a

miserable life

it really is you have no place to go the


fires are prohibited most places your

biggest thing is theft everybody

complains about theft there's no

safe spot here at all he's seen it all

the rats the human waste the cold

the torment you wouldn't wish this life

on your worst enemy

no right no but it's remarkable that

people are choosing this even though you

hear the statistics from the city that

oh people don't want to do this that

they're it's miserable there's a

compassion for people

the people you see and i see in camps

many of them are choosing to stay this

way because of all the drug habits they

have or

that's all driven by the drugs drugs

drives drives everything we see here

right i would pretty much say that

uh substance abuse heroin meth

even marijuana to some extent

is the driving factor why they stay out

here you you've sat down with the city


you've asked him about repeat offenders

who get arrested 60 70 times

the thrown back on the streets what does

he say

you can't um

you you you can't arrest your way out of

this problem

that's a firm belief for his why is the


should we hammer him now when

the entire criminal record that you're

citing is proof that what we've been

doing hasn't worked

do you ever hear about actual meaningful


taking place

i really haven't i can't say

one case i've been covering for the last

year and a half that i know of somebody

who's gotten treatment

and has gotten off the streets

police say that on july 20th of 2017

this man louis arby iii 41 years old

removed the screen from a woman's window

at an assisted living facility in seatac

and crawled in the woman inside was

brutalized for an

hour she was raped and beaten and choked

and robbed police say louis arby also

urinated on the floor afterwards police

say he left through the same window he'd

entered through

the victim was treated for bleeding on

the brain a broken nose and other


she was 71 years old it was a shocking

and disturbing crime but perhaps we

shouldn't have been all that surprised

just four days before the rape just 96

hours before police say he scarred one

woman's life forever

louis arby iii was arrested here sitting

next to the fountain

right outside the king county courthouse

police say he was selling


that's him in the back of the squad car

after the arrest

he was booked and then released almost


our criminal justice system decided that

he shouldn't spend even 24 hours

in jail but even a brief look at his

record would have shown that louis arby

had come from california

where he'd spent 19 years in prison for


robbery and carjacking and had

prosecutors looked a little more closely

they'd have known that arby was the only

suspect in a case

three months prior in which a woman was

taken hostage

forcibly shot full of drugs and

viciously raped and beaten

for 15 hours the king county

prosecutor's office says

in this case we had information that he

had a 1995 california conviction for

kidnapped to commit robbery and other


the prosecutors assigned to the

investigation had no knowledge of other

pending investigation

and so we are left with a question how

is it that a man is arrested in front of

a courthouse

in possession of a deadly drug that

destroys lives

how is it that this man who has a long

history of violence

doesn't even spend 24 hours in jail how

is it

that he is sent right back onto the



one seattle police officer told us


i would say all of the people living in

sidewalk tents

doorways and encampments suffer from

drug addiction

or more rarely a serious debilitating

mental illness

another officer put it this way

intervention of some sort has to be made

on the people who are involved

if there is no intervention there's no


it's that simple this officer continues

i used to be proud of the hard work i

did and actually thought i was doing

something important i took pride in

working hard and making good arrests

while treating everyone with the respect

they deserved now

it's just about trading hours for

dollars and it's frustrating to me

knowing i am becoming more apathetic

and caring less about doing a good job

another cop said

homelessness and drug use have become

such politically

charged issues politically charged in

that the city including spd


have ceased to be interested in policing

this population

in a misguided attempt to help this


the city has allowed the streets to be

essentially taken over

the city is falling apart and becoming

more unsafe

due to politics surrounding low-level

criminal activity and homelessness

we don't want to screw over the homeless

population we just want the ability to

police them

and yet another officer told us this

drug dealers

selling crack meth and heroin are evil


preying on the weakest part of society

and belong in prison

we arrest them and nothing happens to

them they are back out on the street


we need to acknowledge the disregard for

human life inherent

in selling life-ending drugs and lock

the dealers up for serious time


campers show up they eventually get

moved they show up again

they set up where they please in front

of tourists next to businesses it

doesn't matter

and they know that a lack of political

will or an overwhelming of resources

or indifference disguised as compassion

will allow them to stay

and don't think for a moment that the

visitors to our city

don't notice it was kind of surprising i

don't know why the city would let that


i mean this is your touristy spot you

know what i mean this family is from


they seem genuinely confused i just

don't understand isn't it trespassing

you know what i'm saying so so how can

they they stay there

why does the city put up with it why do

you i mean that's a public spot why does

somebody get to stay there i don't

understand that i i would be arrested i

thought my town if i did that

i mean right by our parking garage it's

there's just trash and

the smell was off oh my god the smell is

horrible in any stairwell you go into

around here

let me ask you something do you think

they'll be back to visit again

in the last three years you know

it just has gone downhill steve danishek

has spent his whole life in seattle

he says when misdemeanors stopped being

enforced it was the beginning of the end

and at that point everyone got the

message it's a free-for-all down here

it's a wild west no laws apply do

whatever you want

i could go down here and pee on the

street or crap over there

or smoke a joint i i have no one's going

to get arrested for doing that

because they're not doing that they're

not arresting anyone if i was a city

council member i might say

well we're overwhelmed we've got this

homeless epidemic no no the city council

is not overwhelmed by anything

the city council are idiots they know

that there are solutions out there

they simply have turned their back on

the solutions


we don't sweat the small stuff anymore

in seattle

small acts of incivility are ignored and

here's why

if someone say urinates in front of the

nordstrom store they used to be issued a

civil infraction

a 27 fine it used to be that a civility

charge would become a criminal charge

if you didn't pay the fine but the city

attorney's office stopped filing

civility cases

they are dropped now almost without

exception urinating or defecating in


sleeping in parks obstructing sidewalks

failure to pay infractions

all of it will get you nothing and so

the police have stopped issuing the

tickets altogether

what's the use small acts of incivility

things that cumulatively affect all of

us no longer have any consequences

in seattle


the businesses of our city big and small


fit to be tied bob donegan is the

president of ivers

the conditions being allowed around our

businesses are one thing

there's needles and rats and garbage

and feces it's not acceptable in a major

urban city

to have those kind of problems where

there are lots of people but then

with online shopping already threatening

their existence

along came a horde of shoplifters


every day to feed their addiction i

would love to hear what the total is of

if all the main the business in the

downtown car would put their

loss of theft millions and millions of

dollars a year just kind of if they


compile that stat we would all just

probably drop dead after we heard what

the total was

one of the officers who replied to the

questionnaire we sent out agreed

the amount of money lost due to thefts

downtown he said

is staggering unfortunately the

businesses take the hit

and the person caught stealing rarely

has to deal with any consequences

denise moriguchi is the ceo of owajumaya

the grocery shopping hub of the

international district the system's

broken and i think that's creating the


huawei called 911

times over a 19-month stretch they're

bold when they get caught

they kind of just you know they don't


care and and they often times that we

you know will put in a police report and

they'll get a trespassing notification

but then they'll just walk right back in

and they and it's kind of like oh you

have this trespassing okay what are you

gonna do call the police

and if you're wondering why that

boldness she talks about exists

of those 599 reports of shoplifting at

her store in a 19-month stretch

about eight of the cases ended in some

form of prosecution

most of those because they also involved


it's huge and it costs these

small mom and pop businesses and large

retailers alike

it costs them millions and millions of

dollars per year

and you know what the businesses don't

like to talk about it themselves because

nobody wants to say

how much they're losing but we know it

is millions of dollars

citizens and shop owners had waited for

the people running our city to come up

with something

a plan and then one day last may a group

of construction workers

got tired of waiting and took action

coming here for this

important discussion


as you know i am also a rank-and-file

member of the labor movement

on that day the tide turned against

seattle's proposed business head tax

to pay for homeless services and

affordable housing but if we fight

against each other

the bosses win

the city council which had passed the

tax unanimously

you can say exactly what you think but

rather than chanting against each other

let's hear each other out


was forced to repeal 75 million dollars


of business taxes


and for a moment in time anyway it felt

as though something had changed

was this your dream this shop yeah

it's hardly i mean it's hard emotionally

because i've been such a part of the

neighborhood here you know karen


ran her boutique in belltown for many


and then things changed there was a guy

shooting heroin or whatever he was


on the sidewalk i was in flip-flops

walking by

there was urine all over the sidewalk


a pile of trash that was overflowing

and it was appalling

she called the police she wrote letters

things only got worse and i go to

bellevue and it's calm

and it's quiet and there's none of this

stuff going on

and it's a joy being over there i i

never thought i would say i'd be ready

to leave seattle but i am

true to her word she left her store is

in bellevue now

and it's thriving


amongst the responses to our

questionnaire one anonymous seattle

police officer said

there has to be some sort of

intervention to break the cycle

or people will continue to do what they

do the addict won't quit because it has

become too easy for them to use

and the dealer won't quit as the

consequences of getting caught

are minimal another said seattle needs

leaders who are willing to stand up for

what is right and by doing so

will ultimately help those who can't

help themselves and hold accountable

those who are hiding

behind tents reading through the

responses two things are crystal clear

the level of frustration and the fact

that in spite of it all

they still care deeply one officer said

crack cocaine heroin and especially meth


are on the rise unless someone contacted

for low-level amounts of drug has a


they're not taking to jail they know

this and have no problem using in open


drug dealers have caught on and have

changed the amount they keep on them

it is currently impossible to combat the

open-air drug market in the city

that officer was referring to the fact

that in king county

three grams of heroin or meth won't get

you prosecuted

or probably even arrested it's

unofficial policy

it's only the much larger quantity say

20 grams that get prosecuted

and the dealers and the users know it

three grams of heroin by the way

is equal to 30 doses one officer summed

it all up like this

let's spend the millions of dollars on

mandatory inpatient treatment programs

instead of making excuses for their


and or crimes the option should be

treatment or

jail the cycle has to be intervened on

or it will never end

and maybe you're wondering why didn't

they show the positive responses to the

police questionnaire

the answer to that is simple there

weren't any


they use deadly drugs and they sell

those drugs for 10 bucks a dose

and over and over they steal us blind to

get the 10 bucks

and they pollute our streets and parks

and neighborhoods

and they live in filth and despair like


and we allow it all of it we used to

talk about compassion

and when the madness that is always

patiently wading off in the distance

finally moves in

and wraps its arms around them and in

the end it always does

the suffering escalates exponentially

until the misery is a white-hot pain

that never stops never rests

this man in the downtown core of our

city was suffering

in distress once he fell down he

couldn't get back on his feet again

so he sat there for a long time at the


same time just across the street there

was another man

also apparently in the middle of a drug

crisis staggering

out of it lost in some other world you

can see the same thing

on a lot of corners every single day

to leave them alone is a death sentence

sooner or later they die

on the streets or in tents or in low

barrier tiny houses

to leave them alone is to shame


and that's why they need help they don't

need camps and injection

sites and bags of free socks they need


the kind that takes courage the kind

that gives them

and seattle a fighting chance

they need intervention


and so the city of seattle and king

county seem to be struggling mightily to

find answers

we came all the way to the state of

rhode island looking for answers and we

may have found some

right behind those prison walls

providence is a medium-sized city in our

tiniest state

what they are working on here while not

outwardly revolutionary

or mind-boggling at first blush is a

bold step towards saving lives and


and giving tortured souls who've

succumbed to the hell of heroin

a fighting chance and in providence is a

man who will tell you about the program

they have developed

but first he will tell you his own story

i didn't have to do what i did i wanted

to be something that i couldn't be

i wanted to emulate the older fellas in

the neighborhood

his name is michael manfredi he used

heroin for 35 years

i became addicted out of february at the

age of 15 i was a full-fledged

addict 15 years old 15 years old

this is his mug shot from the last time

he came to the rhode island department

of corrections

20 years of his life had been spent

locked up

well nothing seemed to work it was a


reeling out of control when i got the

handcuffs put on me at my house that day

when they kicked my door in

um i looked at the lady detective and i

said thank you

she looked at me like i was crazy sugar

partnerships guys nothing like she said

i said you just saved my life

because if she didn't stop me there i

won't be sitting here today

i would either be dead or i'd be doing


the question facing rhode island is

similar to the question facing much of

the united states

how do we protect our society while at

the same time

showing compassion towards those who are

sick and struggling

it may be the question of our time i've

wanted this

program basically since the day i


dr jennifer clark is the head of what is

referred to back

east as the mat program medication

assisted treatment

we can't just ignore our way out of this

we can't arrest our way out of this

people are dying and there's something

we can do to stop that

it starts out here really because the

first thing that they do in rhode island

is enforce their laws drug dealers and

the people who steal and commit crime to

get their drugs

eventually end up in this place the

rhode island department of corrections

it's not a nice place it's a prison

but inside the walls something amazing


every day the inmates who are in the map


line up and they take their medicine

there are three opiate blockers that

work methadone

suboxone and vivitrol they are fda


they get people off heroin they save


prisoners who enter the program choose

which medicine they want to use

michael manfredi chose vivitrol he

remembers when he first started taking


near the end of his last stint behind

bars and one night i got a call it was

about 6

30. come to the front desk i said oh no

hey what do i do now i know i didn't do

nothing wrong but

they said go see the nurse i had tears

in my eyes

because i knew it was time for me to get

that pill really this

is the perfect setting because there

isn't as there's not as much

distraction actually linda hurley

is the president of a non-profit called

kodak it's been around for 50 years on

the outside

the state of rhode island hired kodak to

distribute medicine

inside the walls of the prison all three


you carry on your life it's no different

than if you were utilizing

lisinoprol or something i don't know a

blood pressure medication

or insulin you have a family you have a

job you build your life

it what it does is it stabilizes it

stabilizes us

physically so that we can do the

emotional work that we need to do to

heal from the disease

i started messing around with the pills

and everything and then once i

found opiates that was that was the end

of it you know

ray vincent has been behind bars for

three years

he was stealing to support his habit for

a while then he upped the ante

to robbery maybe if i didn't come in

here i'd probably be

dead so you think getting arrested

was a good thing for you i think it

saved my life

ray takes suboxone he knows he may take

it for the rest of his life

you sound optimistic actually yeah well

you know i don't i don't want to

continue i don't want to continue to

come here the rest of my life

you know and if this medication is a

stepping stone i need i'll do it

that's the bottom line inside the prison

inside the mat

program the inmates have counselors

there are one-on-one meetings with

recovery coaches

and group meetings as well they hit


with every tool they can throw at it and

the recovery coaches come in

and meet with anyone who's willing and

interested in meeting with them

so that they can develop a relationship

with them on the

inside and then have that relationship

sustained on the outside

kevin tangway says i wasn't arrested

i was rescued and were you stealing to

yeah that's that's my main thing what i

do is i shoplift i'm a shoplifter

he's been in prison eight over the last

10 years he's on methadone

we get it at 12 o'clock and we we're

monitored like we get those evaluations

like the the doctors the counselors

um that we stay in touch so that they

can know if we're on at as far as a dose

is holding me keeping me like so that

i'm not really feeling that bad

the mat system is a lifeline and these

men are holding on for dear life

i'm not afraid of a lot of things but

i'm a little concerned about

like i don't want to go back to it i

don't want to go back to it because you

don't even know what's real anymore and

i'm just i'm a little afraid of that to

die alone you know

i want to kind of try to put things

together my mother is still alive

i want to kind of like make some kind of

amends before something happens to one

of us you know


look at this place look at all the

buildings the infrastructure what if

this was a specialized facility where we

could use all of our resources and

knowledge to fight this thing that is


what if it was a place where doctors and

counselors and case workers were


along with the treatment drugs that we

know work the ones we know save lives

what if this was a very specific place

where sick people learn how to live life


job training therapy treatment all of it

in one place

it would have to be a place where the

patients couldn't simply get up and

leave if they wanted

because the sickness is such that that

doesn't really work

but eventually they would leave and have

jobs and families and maybe continue to

use methadone suboxone or vivitrol for

the rest of their lives

the way some people use insulin what

you're looking at is mcneil island

completely abandoned for the most part

you might call it an answer

waiting for the right question it

wouldn't have to be here

it could be somewhere else but maybe

that billion dollars that we spent

last year could be spent on a tough

compassionate concept

that actually works that saves lives

as seattle and the rest of the west

coast wander in the darkness searching

for answers

it's important to understand that the

genius of what they're doing in rhode


isn't just that there is full drug

treatment inside the prison walls

the genius is what happens when the

inmates leave

priority number one being how they going

to continue their medication the minute


shows up in a program in the community

they have to be registered in that

database so we know

if they're showing up or not are the

numbers going up

the figure that i saw yesterday was 93

percent of the people

who leave here on mat are following up

in the community

that's amazing 93 93 percent

are following through michael manfredi

is one who stuck with the program after

he was released

he's alive to talk about it would i be

where i am today if this program wasn't

implemented no

i wouldn't be here today honestly god

i'd be dead

this is a kodak center they are

sprinkled throughout rhode island

there are seven of them in providence

alone once

you come into the department of

corrections and are medicated under

methadone or suboxone or vivitrol

you become a kodak patient you have a

patient id number in our system

and our agencies throughout rhode island

are all connected

former inmates or anyone else in the

program show up

anytime any day take home bottles

so those will be filled and they get

their medication

no red tape no questions asked no

doctors appointments no vouchers

they're in the system they get their

meds it's that simple

josh broadfoot overdosed 12 times and

somehow survived

he got three years for selling drugs i'm


that i was arrested and taken out of the

situation i was in because

i mean it sounds [ __ ] to say i'm

grateful i was arrested and i'm taken

away from my family but i might not

even be there to ever see my family

again if that situation hadn't happened

i might be gone completely on this day

josh is on methadone

the mat program he says gives him hope

you got to get out there and do


but at the same time we have a little

bit of help along the way we have this

counseling we have something that we

know is

helping us to stay away from opiates and

people that care

and so that's a major help on the


those group meetings continue and so

does the counseling that is so very


up to three times a week and i changed

by becoming someone i didn't want to be

my psychiatrist my caseworker my my case


and my doctor that prescribes my pills

all in one facility i don't have to go

all over the state of rhode island

it's one facility you know with all the

counseling and

and all the support that i have it's

like it's a very smooth transition

you know i don't know how it would be if

i wasn't on medication

because i don't know if somebody if if

the next day i get out i i see a bag of

heroin you know

somebody i know just sees me on the

street hey hey you

gives me a high five or something

there's a bag of dope in his hand you

know i don't wanna

it's scary to think about but that's


bray vincent got out of prison 19 days

after we spoke to him

he's going to school to become a welder

he gets his medicine at a kodak center

every week it saves lives so i don't

think of it as

being soft or compassionate

it is the right thing to do it is

what we're obligated to do as health

care providers

it's the smart thing to do patricia

coyne feig

who runs the entire correctional

facility knows that one of the ways of

measuring success

is looking at the death rate for those

leaving prison because i've seen it work

i mean you see the numbers people who

would be dead

are not because of this program

leaving the walls behind is dangerous

because addicts who are clean

will use the same amount of drugs they

used before and then overdose

the rate of that happening is way down

in rhode island

and what we found was a 65 percent

decrease in mortality

for people with a history of

incarceration 65

and the program is still only about

three years old

and maybe it's just a coincidence that

it's been a group of women who have

spearheaded a program

that is tough compassionate and

innovative all at once

maybe it's a coincidence maybe not

michael manfredi has a job now he goes

to meetings

he's reconnected with his family he's

productive he's happy

he's alive my biggest thing is my


she's she melts my she lost my heart man

absolutely i've never been happier in my


why is that because i've never lived a

productive life like i am today

my life's great man i can't i can't

thank everybody enough man because

always for this mit program

michael wouldn't be here today i'm proud

of myself part of my family

and i'm part of everything i've done and

that means so much to all of us

me and the people who work in the


to do this work because the other reason

we do it

what they've done in rhode island and in

other places can be boiled down to two

simple concepts

enforcement and intervention seattle

and king county have retreated away from

those things

we've left sick tortured souls to wander

the streets

to rot in filth and die before us we've

turned over our city to those who would

steal from us and addict our children

we've turned away from simple concepts

that bind together society

and keep it safe things like enforcement

and intervention


a city is a living thing it has a rhythm

and a heartbeat

a kind of soul it is a collection of

ideas that we protect and defend

old ideas and new ones and over time the

ideas blend into a collective

living ever-changing dream and the dream

is nothing more and nothing less than a

better life for our children

but behind the beauty and the ideals

behind the bridges and the ballparks and

the beautiful buildings

the dirty work is the fight great dreams

and great cities don't survive

without a fight seattle is dying

maybe with all the wealth and growth we

became so pleased with ourselves or so


that we forgot about the hard part maybe

good people who go to work every day

and raise families and pay taxes the

ones who built the city

and dreamed the dream forgot about the

dirty work

maybe we forgot about the fight