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Monroe sets stay-out-of-drug areas

MONROE — Drug dealers and users who have prior drug related arrests will be subject to rearrest, jail time and fines if they are found in Monroe’s new designated “SODA” zone downtown.
SODA is the abbreviation for “stay out of designated area.” The City Council acted to create the area at its June 12 meeting. It came into immediate effect with the council vote.
The off-limits district surrounds the downtown Main Street area, stretching from U.S. 2 south to W. Fremont Street and from N. Madison Street east to just past Old Owen Road.
Between 2016 and 2017, 57 percent of substance abuse calls originated from that tiny area, said interim deputy police Chief Ryan Irving in a follow up interview. The number has remained high at 53 percent in 2018, Irving said.
Judges can issue a SODA order to anyone charged with or convicted of a drug offense, including the possession, use or sale of drugs or drug paraphernalia.
If people violate the order and are spotted by police in Monroe’s stay-out zone, they can be charged for that even if they are not selling, possessing or using at the time.
Police can identify and arrest SODA violators based on probable cause, without a warrant or other process according to the resolution.
A conviction can lead to fines or jail time. The jail penalty could occur if a judge had deferred or suspended a sentence and then reinstated it due to the SODA conviction.
 “It’s a deterrent and an accountability piece,” Irving said.
Interim Police Chief Larry Dickerson, Irving and municipal court judge Mara Rozzano educated business owners about the SODA during a May meeting of the Downtown Monroe Association.
The SODA is one of two new approaches in Monroe: last April it established a community outreach team to address homelessness and drug addiction.
Dickerson shared that in May, the outreach team assisted two clients in entering inpatient treatment, one in starting medication assisted treatment, and three in completing chemical dependency tests. One client entered clean and sober housing and another graduated from treatment.
Everett began using stay-out zones in its anti-drug strategy in 2007. Several others cities use stay-out zones, including Marysville, Bothell, Arlington and Seattle.




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