OLYMPIA - Members of Attorney General Rob McKenna’s “Operation Allied Against Meth” task force signed the committee’s final report today at the third and last meeting of the group in Olympia.
The task force, comprised of representatives from federal, state and local law enforcement agencies, treatment programs, business, real estate, non-profit organizations, government and the Legislature, agreed to support all the recommendations set forth by the group’s individual subcommittees, with the exception of provisions that could affect constitutional rights to privacy.
“I’m really pleased with the task force report,” McKenna said. “They made roughly 50 separate recommendations, covering criminal sanctions, demand reduction and drug treatment and cleanup. I think we have a good package to take to the State Legislature.”
Key recommendations by the criminal sanctions subcommittee included:
- Requiring drug enhancements to be served consecutively, rather than concurrently;
- Creating a new crime, outside the scope of manufacturing, for the possession of large quantities of precursor chemicals; and
- For the first time ever, suggesting the state step in and directly support local law enforcement in the war on drugs by spending, at a minimum, $3 million to plug the holes cut by federal grant cuts.
Legislators requested the opportunity to review in greater detail the recommendations to make Washington’s law on wiretapping and one-party consent more consistent with federal law to increase the ability to work across jurisdictions in drug investigations.
Members of the Criminal Sanctions Committee included:
- Chairman Bill Elfo, Whatcom County Sheriff;
- Chris DeChant, Mercer Island Police Department;
- Prosecutor Russ Hauge, Kitsap County Prosecutor;
- Annette L. Hayes, Assistant United States Attorney for Western Washington;
- Assistant Chief Dave Karnitz, (Capt. Mark Couey, Alternate), Investigative Service Bureau, Washington State Patrol;
- James McDevitt, United States Attorney for Eastern Washington;
- Suzanne Moreau, Puget Sound Labor Agency (AFL-CIO), representing organized labor;
- Jason Moulton, Safeway Loss Prevention Department, representing Washington Association of Retailers/Grocers;
- State Rep. Al O’Brien
- Scott Sigmon, Schering-Plough External Affairs, representing the pharmaceutical industry; and
- Karl Sloan, Okanogan County Prosecutor.
Key recommendations in the treatment and education area included:
- Conducting a comprehensive, ongoing, statewide demand reduction and prevention campaign with partners such as the Washington State Association of Broadcasters and the National Council for the Prevention of Drug Abuse; and
- Establishing new guidelines to help vulnerable adults endangered by meth use, similar to the drug-endangered children protocols now in place.
Members of the Demand Reduction Subcommittee included:
- Chairman State Sen. Jim Hargrove;
- State Rep. Tom Campbell;
- Chief Gary James, Lummi Tribal Law and Order;
- King County Sheriff Sue Rahr;
- Dr. Terree Schmidt-Whelan, Pierce County Alliance;
- Nancy Underwood Long, Lutheran Community Services; and
- Marcia Via, Greater Spokane Substance Abuse Council.
Key recommendations in the clean-up and governance report included:
- Extending the liability shield for municipal corporations who clean up blighted properties seized in drug forfeitures to apply to properties obtained through voluntary and tax forfeitures;
- Increasing the power of local health officers to post immediate warning notices on blighted properties and prevent reoccupation or the removal of contaminated properties; and
- Creating a revolving fund to help local communities clean up orphaned drug labs.
Members of the Clean-up and Governance Subcommittee included:
- Chairwoman Janice Ellis, Snohomish County Prosecutor;
- State Sen. Stephen Johnson;
- Priscilla Lisicich, Safe Streets Campaign, representing Washington State Methamphetamine Initiative;
- State Rep. Kirk Pearson;
- Bobbie Petrone-Cassidy, representing Washington Association of Realtors; and
- Bob Richey, Ellensburg Police Department.
“Meth is the biggest illegal drug problem in our state,” McKenna said. “It’s driving a lot of other crime, it’s contaminating the environment, and it has devastating impacts on children—right down to newborn babies. These recommendations provide a broad range of solutions.
“The next step is to take the final recommendations of the task force and convert those recommendations into legislation,” McKenna said. “We’ll work with legislators who served on the task force to draft a bill and then we’ll begin circulating that bill for comments.”
Contact: Janelle Guthrie, AG Media Relations Director, (360) 586-0725