Another participant in the city's Drug Market Initiative (DMI)—an effort aimed at eliminating the open-air drug market along the 23rd Avenue Corridor in the Central District—has failed out of the program.
King County prosecutors have filed drug possession charges against Terrance Lee Jenkins, 51, after, police records say, he was caught carrying several crack rocks and a wad of cash late last month.
Early last month, prosecutors and police offered 18 alleged drug dealers in the Central District clemency for previous drug crimes—which had been documented by police, but not charged by prosecutors—if they gave up dealing. Jenkins is the seventh DMI candidate to be charged for a drug crime since the program began last month.
Police records say that on August 29th, officers received complaints about "vice activity" in the 3100 block of East Spring Street, near Madrona Elementary in the Central District. Officers found Jenkins sitting in the passenger seat of a light-colored Pontiac, next to a woman and two open containers of alcohol.
When officers struck up a conversation with Jenkins, he began "sweating profusely," was "talking very fast," and appeared to be high, police records say. Officers searched Jenkins and found two crack rocks and $724 in his pants, and a crack pipe underneath his seat.
Jenkins' arrest is yet another example of an alarmingly rapid failure rate for DMI participants. As I wrote in the paper this week:
Under the initiative, the city is essentially expecting dealers to immediately give up their lifestyle or face harsh consequences. But it's hard to believe that people who have been addicted to drugs for decades will voluntarily turn their lives around so quickly.
According to prosecutors, Jenkins has a half-dozen drug charges, attempted burglary, theft and 60 warrants dating back to 1984.
While neighbors in the Central District seem to think the neighborhood has gotten quieter since the DMI was implemented, police still aren't sure. I spent some time with East Precinct Captain Paul McDonagh earlier today, and while McDonagh says he's heard plenty of anecdotal evidence from neighbors, SPD doesn't yet have data indicating whether the DMI has been a success. "I'm not ready to say DMI is the best thing since sliced bread," McDonagh says.
If indeed the 23rd Avenue corridor has gotten quieter, it's still unclear where drug dealers might have gone. Previous anti-drug efforts around Seattle by SPD have simply moved dealers and buyers to other neighborhoods, and indeed Jenkins was arrested a little more than a half-mile away from 23rd, in the Madrona neighborhood.
I asked McDonagh whether he thinks the DMI will play out like previous drug crackdowns, simply shuffling dealers around. "If they're going somewhere else, I can't stop them," he says, "But am I just moving [the drug market] somewhere else? My information says no."