More than a dozen Central Area drug dealers voluntarily walked into an auditorium full of police and prosecutors Thursday night and were presented with an ultimatum: Stop selling dope or prepare for prison.
Confronted with photos, video clips and binders full of evidence gathered in a yearlong operation along Seattle's 23rd Avenue corridor, from Madison to Jackson streets, the dealers were promised they wouldn't be arrested, prosecuted or sent to jail for 20 months or more if they embraced the job training, educational opportunities and chemical-dependency treatment being offered them.
Hooray for Seattle - combining both good law enforcement with progressive punishments. But for a city that clearly understands that drugs are not the worst thing in the world, they need to be on the forefront of legalization of marijuana and the creation of better treatment centers. It is usually a lot to ask of a city to make such sweeping changes in a short period of time, but in Seattle these things are long overdue, and the fact that the laws and practices haven't caught up to liberal values of the city is disappointing.