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Lynnwood holds fifth Let’s Talk About Safety panel discussion

LYNNWOOD, Wash., July 21, 2023—Local leaders and community members gathered at Lynnwood Library on Thursday, July 20, to discuss public safety in an open forum setting for its fifth Let’s Talk About Safety event.

In addition to asking questions verbally during the forum, attendees were also invited to list their top three concerns about safety in Lynnwood on a paper handout, which will later be tallied and considered among city officials and directors.  

Last night’s panelists included Lynnwood PD Deputy Chief Cole Langdon, South County Fire Deputy Community Resource Paramedics Chief Joe Hughes and Captain Nicole Picknell, Representative Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline), Sargent Lindsey Pool with the Lynnwood PD, Rebecca Stradling, Community Health Center, Ashley Dawson, Snohomish LEAD, and Dr. Eileen Newton with Evergreen Recovery.

Lynnwood safety
Lynnwood Police Department Deputy Chief Cole Lagndon attending the Let’s Talk About Safety forum on July 20, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

The panel was moderated by Council President Shannon Session and Council Vice President Dr. Julieta Altamirano-Crosby with the help Lisa Harrison, Executive Assistant for the City of Lynnwood.

Council members Jim Smith, Patrick Decker and Shirley Sutton and School Board Member Deb Kilgore were also in attendance. Lynnwood City Council candidate David Parshall was also in attendance.

Lynnwood safety
Lynnwood Police Department Deputy Chief Cole Lagndon attending the Let’s Talk About Safety forum on July 20, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

John Judd, 50-year Lynnwood resident, kicked off the panel by sharing a story about an individual who was “having an episode” by Daleway Park; standing in the middle of traffic with no shirt and attempting to conduct it. He asked what the best way of would be dealing with a situation like this, as it relates to connecting the gentlemen with resources. Joe Hughes took the question to answer the best way is to call 911 so an emergency worker can assess if the person is in a safe spot or in a state of crises requiring attention.

Another resident, named Colin, mentioned a troubling Facebook post he came across where someone expressed they were interested in entering sober living but could not afford to, asking what resources are available to help assist in situations like this.

Lynnwood safety
Lynnwood State Representative Lauren Davis (D-Shoreline) attending the Let’s Talk About Safety forum on July 20, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

Rep. Lauren Davis referred to the Recovery Navigator Program, which is a voluntary program that uses holistic approaches to stabilize individuals in the community who are struggling with co-occurring Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and mental health conditions.

Estella, Lynnwood resident, then shared she has a 42-year-old son with mental health issues, drug addiction, and brain damage. Last night his son was “acting up”, she said, pounding on the wall as she was trying to sleep due to a phobia of being watched or someone entering his room. Not knowing what to do, she called 911 but was told they couldn’t do anything about it because her son was not harming her.

Lynnwood safety
Lynnwood Police Department Sgt. Lindsey Cole attending the Let’s Talk About Safety forum on July 20, 2023. Lynnwood Times | Mario Lotmore.

“But they didn’t offer anything else,” said Estella. “I’m not here complaining I just see that there are a lot of resources, yet I was not directed to anything like that last night.”

Rebecca Stradling responded to Estella’s concern saying she understands the difficulties with dealing with chronic mental illness and the constant, very real threat of potential homelessness. She then passed the mic back to Rep. Lauren Davis who commended Estrella’s parenting. She added that the state offers assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) services, the criteria to qualify being just lowered by the legislature recently, to the individual presenting themselves, in at least two instances or more in the last 36 hours, as in need of behavioral health services.

Lynnwood PD Deputy Chief Langdon also added the 988 crises and suicide is also a great resource for those experiencing mental health, substance abuse, or suicidal crises, apologizing for Estella’s experience with her 911 call.

The mic was then passed to David, Lynnwood resident, who specifically addressed Dr. Newton asking what can be done to increase the number of nurses to address the area’s needs.

Dr. Eileen mentioned Evergreen has about 16 beds strictly for those with Medicaid. Whenever she comes in and sees that her 16 beds are not filled she thinks “wow Snohomish County has no problem with drugs,” but that’s not the case, she added. She said the problem is she simply doesn’t have the staff. A big problem with staffing, she added as an example, is if Evergreen pays about $40 an hour for nurses and most hospitals pay about $70 an hour, Evergreen cannot keep up with the competition. But it also comes down to having nurses that care and understand addiction.

“It’s a very complex issue, you have to understand addiction, there’s a lot of mental health involved,” said Dr. Eileen.

Sargent Pool added that the city is struggling with affordable sober housing options. Rebecca Stradling continued that “just putting a roof over people’s heads is not going to resolve a lot of the other challenges people are going through,” adding that the region should really be creative in the way it provides housing.

The last comment came from a resident named Alicia who expressed concern over the court system sharing a story about her daughter’s struggles with the legal system. Stradling addressed her concerns by responding she would love to talk with her further on this issue after the panel.

The event was the City’s fifth Let’s Talk About Safety event organized by Lynnwood City Council Vice President Dr. Altamirano-Crosby.

“We received a lot of emails and phone calls, and text messages regarding safety in the City,” Councilwoman Altamirano-Crosby said, recounting why she organized the event. “For me, safety is the priority. Receiving all those messages, I felt a commitment to do something as a public servant.”

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