King County Metro bus ads support safe injection sites as new initiative pops up against them

A local nonprofit is supporting ads on King County Metro buses that promote safe injection sites for heroin and other illegal drugs.

The ads, which proclaim “Safer is better. Supervised consumption spaces prevent fatal overdose,” were posted by VOCAL-WA, supported by the Public Defender Assocation.

“It's shocking to see,” Corri Durant said. “I didn’t know they were out there.”

King County Metro confirmed there are 40 ads that will be running on buses based out of downtown Seattle and Tukwila for the next five weeks.

Durant told KIRO 7 her brother died from heroin abuse and was opposed to safe injection sites. She doesn’t believe these sites will help King County’s opiod addicts.

“I think it’s the wrong image,” she said. “Let’s not give them the attitude that these injection sites are OK and that heroin abuse is OK.”

City and county leaders have pledged to open two safe injection sites in the area, with the first one in Seattle.

VOCAL-WA said the money for the ads was from private foundation grants and individual donations, and Patricia Sully, who is heading up the campaign, said via email that the ads reflect “established science and outcomes.”

“People understandably don't always know the benefits of such spaces -- that they save lives, reduce the spread of disease, and connect people to other necessary care,” she wrote.

“I think safe injection sites are a piece of the solution,” supporter Shawn Roland said.

He liked the ads and supports the sites, which are paired with treatment services.

“At least with providing a safe injection site, you reduce the risk of overdose,” he said.

Roland came to the announcement of Initiative 27 to hear from people like Durant, who support a petition against safe injection sites across the country.

“Voters are going to decide—do we want these in our neighborhoods?” Senator Mark Miloscia said.

He wants to see the focus on drug treatment and said he welcomed the ads.

“The more people who know about it, I think people will come down on our side,” he said.

“You actually think these ads might help your cause?” KIRO 7 asked.

“Yes, because I think the regular person looking at that says, ‘That doesn’t make sense. Safe sites that take heroin?’” he said.

Supporters need to gather 47,443 countywide to get Initiative 27 on the November ballot.