Such an unsettling impression of anarchy and calamity in the streets has been seen on television programs worldwide, but it may be coming to a neighborhood near you. Seattle, WA, among others, grabbed headlines with seemingly endless street riots that resulted in damage and, in some cases, murder.
Seatle Mayor Jenny Durkan has done little to assist in the madness. On June 5th, 2020, Durken banned tear gas for 30 days. Tear gas can be a valuable component in deterring and dispersing crowds of rioters in situations where it becomes harmful and dangerous to onlookers and Police Officers. While tear gas can be severely damaging to some, it is a mild agitation to almost all who contact it.
Fast forward to July 2021. Seattle is still plagued with acts of violence, and the city has recently seen groups of individuals throwing large objects at vehicles. Videos and pictures show vehicles being pelted with large objects such as scooters, bricks, cinder blocks, and other items that cause serious harm to drivers and incapacitate vehicles. Law Enforcement Officers work tirelessly to protect their community and stop criminal activity. When the perpetrators are apprehended, they are taken to a court official, and a bond is set, which is a monetary figure that must be satisfied before they are freed from jail. While a bond is not to be a punishment, a bond is issued based on the severity of the crime and should follow along with the offender’s behaviors. These behaviors could include previous offenses of the same rigor, length of time between crimes, missed court dates, etc.
Many of the offenders that Seattle has seen are homeless, below the poverty line, or have mental health issues, which brings us to LEAD. According to the King County website LEAD, the lead is the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program. LEAD is “a collaborative community safety effort that offers law enforcement a credible alternative to booking people into jail for criminal activity that stems from unmet behavioral health needs or poverty. While this appears to be a great effort by all involved at face value, let’s dive deeper.
With the uptick in mental health and behavioral health, hospitals across the nation are at total capacity many times and cannot fulfill the needs of the patients. LEAD has indeed been blamed for allowing Seattle to be terrorized rather than assisting mental health needs and stabilizing people for success.
Police Departments have been defunded, and over 200 Seattle Police Officers have resigned among the 1,325 Officer department begs who will enforce the laws in this country. Personal accountability plummets when punishments for criminal action are equated to spending the night in the hospital to be assessed and discharged with no court date.
Young men have been put in protective cages throughout the country in many ways to try to protect themselves. School campuses have created safe spaces to protect feelings and reduce mental strain on students. Is it possible that “coddling” our young people is not a road we need to travel down? Most lessons in life can be learned through the free exercise of thought. The easiest way to provide a factual response to a bad idea is with a good idea. When young people are shielded from adverse opinions, the only option is to believe what you’re told. That doesn’t mean the unfavorable opinion is wrong, but it may haven’t been considered. By shielding young people, they grow into adults with a lack of personal accountability for actions and a failure to see consequences. In many ways, the LEAD program has done just that with the criminal offenders of the streets of Seattle.