Opinion

Drug houses in our midst: Neighbors take a stand | Editorial

It’s rare that The Beachcomber quotes people without using their names. A tenet of contemporary journalism is that people are expected to stand behind their comments. The citing of “unnamed sources” creates a lack of transparency, and that, in turn, can engender cynicism.

But in this week’s issue, we decided to let a handful of Islanders discuss their concerns about drug houses in their midst without insisting that we name them. In each case, we knew the Islander. We also had independent knowledge of their situation, having heard about it from authorities, previous police reports or other Islanders.

Most significantly, without granting these Islanders anonymity, it would have been hard for us to cover a story we think is important. Over the years, Islanders have told us about their inability to force drug dealers out of their neighborhoods or their mounting concerns about the Island’s meth and heroin problem. But few have wanted to discuss it on the record, fearing retribution from the alleged users and dealers.

Vashon is not a hotbed of meth-use and heroin addiction. But there’s no question that both drugs exist on Vashon and that addiction is driving much of the petty crime that plagues this Island.

We’re impressed by how one group of neighbors successfully stood up to the problem, bravely parking in front of the suspected drug house, jotting down license plate numbers and putting pressure on the landlord to evict the tenants. It worked; the landlord ultimately forced them to leave.

But as a sheriff’s deputy pointed out, such an eviction only displaces the problem. The cast of characters will show up elsewhere, forcing another neighborhood to try to confront them.

We won’t eradicate this kind of hard-core drug use on Vashon. Both meth and heroin are horrific, powerfully addictive drugs, and this small group of addicts and dealers isn’t likely to get any kind of meaningful or effective help soon. Compassion, not just frustration and anger, is in order, too.

Still it’s important that we take a stand, as several Islanders have in recent years. If neighbors continue to work together, we’ll make it increasingly difficult and uncomfortable for these dealers and their customers to live here. And that, in turn, will keep our neighborhoods safer and our community a healthier and more vibrant place.

 

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