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Snohomish County Voters Mull Sales Tax Hike As Way To Decrease Crime

"Gold bar sheriff lot" by Richard Bauer is licensed by CC BY 2.0

Voters in Snohomish County are deciding whether to increase the county sales tax to beef up law enforcement. While the measure would put more sheriff’s deputies on the street, officials hope additional resources will help get at the root of the problems the county faces.

Snohomish County officials say the twin epidemics of heroin and homelessness are ravaging the community. Proposition 1 would raise the sales tax to tackle these problems. The county wants to hire 35 sheriff’s deputies and add social workers.

Snohomish County Sheriff Ty Ternary says the combination is key to getting people help versus sending them to jail.

“It hits at the type of policing people want to see, which is us working together with human services,” said Ternary. “If you told me 20 years ago I was going to have a social worker as my partner in the car, I wouldn’t have believed it, but clearly we are seeing great successes.”


Trenary says the county’s had a 23 percent increase in property crimes in the last two years, fueled in part by the opioid problem. A study of the sheriff’s office showed understaffing meant some burglary victims waited days before an officer responded.