Copingwith violence, drugs and mental illness in Blaine

Published on Thu, Jun 17, 2004 by eg Olson

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Coping with violence, drugs and mental illness in Blaine

By Meg Olson

Blaine police chief Mike Haslip has singled out domestic violence, drugs, and a lack of resources for the mentally ill as three of the most pressing community problems his department is trying to address through a combination of collaborative enforcement strategies and public education.

“Compared to a lot of jurisdictions we’re not really out of whack but we have a domestic violence problem in our community and we take it very seriously,” he told city council members June 14. Haslip said Blaine had a high percentage of single parent and low income families that appeared to correlate with a high incidence of domestic violence. Through his department’s participation in the county’s domestic violence task force Haslip said Blaine police had requested an independent review, “to make sure we’re using the best practices in handling these cases,” he said.

With Washington now the number three top manufacture state for methamphetamine in the nation, Haslip said Blaine shared that problem with every other community in the state. “This is by far the most addictive substance we’ve run into,” he said. “It destroys you in a matter of years, and it’s here, and now.” Haslip said during a traffic stop earlier in the year officers had stopped a pair of addicts covered with sores who were living in their car. Their children were playing amongst hypodermic syringes in the back seat. Several months ago when local police shut down a methamphetamine lab in the Salishan neighborhood they also found bomb making materials. “These sites effectively become hazardous waste sites when they have one of these labs,” he said.

Police are gathering information on several other suspected local manufacturers, Haslip said. “With some rudimentary experience you can learn to cook it up with stuff you’ve stolen from the hardware store,” he said. Cooperation from local landlords, community members and merchants is valuable to the department in keeping an eye out for new labs surfacing in Blaine, he added.

Haslip said with federal drug enforcement dollars becoming less available to local communities, Blaine’s local drug enforcement officer was back on the local payroll, and the local beat. “We will keep him working on drugs in the Blaine environs with an emphasis on our local issues rather than the border,” he said.

Finally, Haslip summarized changes at the federal level that have made Medicaid dollars unavailable for indigents with mental health issues, which means that officers will no longer have the option of taking a mentally ill homeless person to a treatment facility. “These were the dollars used to get a bipolar person back on their medication and not standing on the street corner with a baseball bat,” he said. “We have no route to get them into treatment now and even if they commit crimes there’s no room to jail them so we’ll have to keep dealing with them,” he said.