How SnoCo deals
with opioids a topic
at Seattle summit
* To register for the summit, click on this link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/summit-on-reducing-the-supply-of-illegal-opioids-in-washington-registration-32864831596
Snohomish County will have its own session within a free, public summit on reducing opioid abuse and sharing information at the University of Washington next week.
The county’s session will be Thursday, June 15 from 10:15 to 11 a.m. with Snohomish Regional Drug & Gang Task Force Cmdr. Pat Slack and
Everett’s Public Health and Safety Director Hil Kaman speaking.
“We know that Snohomish County has been particularly hard-hit by the opioid epidemic, and we want to highlight efforts going on there, like with the task force, and the fact that the city of Everett has filed the lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, which has generated a lot of public interest,” said summit organizer Kelly Richburg. “At the summit, the city will give an update on that lawsuit, and can share the latest information.”
The summit may also help reveal how the facets of the law, medicine and public health interpret the epidemic, what trends they are seeing and how the public can help.
Guest speakers at the
summit include community leaders from around the state from sectors including law enforcement, legal system and public health.
Slack has been in law enforcement for nearly 50 years.
Slack has seen the worst but also the best in people, and regularly speaks around the county about what his team is doing to fight the influence of drugs.
The Tribune caught up with Slack last week to see why he thinks locals should come to the summit.
“The summit is only going to be as good as the people who attend,” Slack said. “People are interested in
starting new programs, or in finding the ‘silver bullet’ to this issue, but it’s so all across the board, there isn’t a silver bullet. And we already have lots of programs. But there are people who ask me every day, ‘What can I do?’ That’s what this summit can help with, the exposure to all this and learn about the programs and initiatives.”
Slack’s straightforward attitude and no-bull speaking style often makes him a favorite guest speaker.
“I think that knowledge is power, at least that’s what I’ve learned all these years,” Slack said. “I think the epidemic is definitely a threat to everyone because it’s not just
heroin, it’s not just a back-alley, secret thing — opioids are in a lot of people’s homes, in their everyday lives.”
Slack said with the drug issue specifically in Snohomish County, it is similar to what the rest of the country is experiencing.
“Maybe we have more publicity or abuse in certain areas of the county, but I think the knowledge of what is out
there, and what you can do, sure, can be learned at this summit,” he said.
Key branches of state law, such as the state Attorney
General’s Office, the Washington State Patrol and state Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, are hosting the summit. All three arms of the law touch on opioid-related crimes every day.
According to the state Attorney General’s Office, 718 Washingtonians died from opioid overdoses in 2015. That is more than from car accidents. The majority of all drug overdoses in the state, about six out of 10, involved an opioid.
Newer, scarier synthetic opioids are hitting the black market now and police, medical professionals, public health experts and lawmakers are seeing the deadly effects.
The summit also builds on the October 2016 initiative created by Gov. Jay Inslee, who issued an executive order requesting the Attorney General, law enforcement and community partners to develop and recommend strategies to reduce the supply of illegal opioids in the state. Public input could help.
The two-day “Summit on Reducing the Supply of Illegal Opioids in Washington” will be all day Thursday, June
15 at Kane Hall, 4069 Spokane Lane at UW in Seattle, and from 8 a.m. to noon Friday, June 16 the Husky Union Building on the University of Washington campus.
It is free to attend.
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