Use the law

Ask any cop in Reno where they are most likely to encounter a tweaker in the city of Reno, and they are very likely to point at the weekly motels. And they are especially likely to point at two of them, but we’re not going to name names without our own evidence.

Meth is a scourge in this city. All anyone has to do is open their eyes when they’re near downtown to see the zombies with open sores on their faces and skeletal bodies. It’s very similar to the problems this city had with destitute alcoholics back in the ’80s—of course they hung around downtown, there was free booze all over the place, and people walked around with change cups full of little red drink tokes.

To tell the truth, tweakers are a great reason to stay away from downtown. They’re often suffering from drug-induced psychosis and apt to get violent or robby at any moment.

We in the editorial department at the News & Review do believe that much more should be done for the victims of this plague, the users, to help them get off the drug and get real lives as contributing members of this community, but we’re not for coddling them. And for many of them, a run in with the law is the first step toward recovery.

City officials wring their hands and act as though there is nothing to be done. The problem is too big, police are overwhelmed, and they can’t hit the cookers/suppliers where they live.

Well, as a matter of fact, city officials can do something. They just won’t. And it can’t be because they haven’t figured out things to do. Maybe it’s related to this mistaken belief that highlighting issues that exist in this community is bad press to outsiders. It’s really hard to say. But doing nothing but giving lip service about how bad certain drugs are is tantamount to condoning them.

The drug war is a failure. Is there anyone who doesn’t understand this? But it’s put some very powerful weapons in the hands of cities that want to run the obvious drug trade out of town. Here’s one: It’s called the Asset Forfeiture Law, and it’s legal in Nevada.

Why doesn’t the city of Reno inspect weekly motel rooms on an annual basis? Part of the inspection would include swabbing the walls for residue of methamphetamine and heroin. Smoking meth or smack leaves residue on the walls. There is no level of healthful meth exposure for children or for unsuspecting renters. Owners should be prosecuted. It’s as simple as that, and it’s a public-safety issue.

Weekly motels could be closed down by the health department until they are brought up to code. And if owners were shown to be in “possession” of these hard drugs more than a few times, the properties would be subject to forfeiture. Perhaps after cleanup, the city could sell them to establish drug programs or use them to alleviate the homeless problem in this community.

The problem isn’t that drug addicts gravitate toward places where they can beat a hasty retreat. The problem is that downtown and Fourth Street motel owners and managers know that drug abusers use the weeklies, and the motel owners profit by it. This program would force a change in heart from the owners and managers.

Busting addicts one by one does nothing to alleviate the problem. If we want to move the tweakers out of downtown, we’ve got to hit them where they live—the weekly motels on Fourth Street and downtown.