Sep. 16, 2005 – ABC News: A group of suburban Seattle moms is waging a grassroots fight to take back their neighborhoods from meth users.
It started with two women who vowed to rid their streets of drug houses, and has since gone nationwide with groups in 10 states, in addition to dozens of Washington neighborhoods.
“I think the key is ‘do I want to remain a victim or do I want to move over to victory?’ And I choose victory,” said Susan York, the executive director of Lead on America.
York has 35 victories. That’s how many drug houses she’s helped shut down — all of them in what were quiet neighborhoods before the meth users and cooks moved in.
“This particular home was plagued with gunfire, vehicle prowl, stolen vehicles — you simply didn’t see a house with blinds open, didn’t hear kids on streets,” she said.
In March, York and her neighbors started working with police, gathering the kind of information officers need to get search warrants and make arrests.
Snohomish County Sheriff’s Deputy Brad Walvatne confirmed York’s claim that the group has been helping him get meth users behind bars.
“Yes. Definitely,” Walvatne said. “She gives us lots of info, lots of information.”
Seven years ago, York learned the hard way what it takes to rid a neighborhood of a drug house. She said she found that dialing 911 isn’t enough, because police need specific information to move in on suspected drug dealers.
She started tracking license plates, gathered vehicle descriptions, and reported health or city code violations so police could get search warrants and more importantly — legally get inside the drug houses.
“Basically, we’re teaching [that] you have every right to live safe in your neighborhood if you’re not breaking the law,” York said.
She and other neighbors not only teamed with cops, they started Lead on America and are sharing their game plan with any neighborhood willing to listen through their Web site, Leadonamerica.org.
On the Web site, the group offers pamphlets detailing what information police need, as well as other ways to shut down meth houses — such as contacting the local health department, child services and even residential code enforcement with any violations resulting from drug activity. They also offer a neighborhood activity log form, to help people keep track of the events that make them suspect there is a meth operation nearby.
Kim Miller said she used the tips from the group to get a neighbor — or, as police describe him, a “meth-head” — who was running a meth house evicted.
“It’s so nice to feel empowered by Lead on America,” Miller said, while she keeps a watchful eye on her boys, 2-year-old Jack and 11-month-old Ben. “We moved here over a year ago and it’s been nothing but drug activity and people with guns … we only let the kids play in the backyard.”
“We’re knocking them down — it’s ‘Do no meth in our town,’ ” York said.
This fall, for the first time, Lead on America plans to speak to students at schools, too, teaching kids the dangers of drugs and using recovering meth addicts to help spread the anti-meth gospel.
ABC News affiliate KOMO-TV in Seattle contributed to this report.
Category: Drug News