Submitted by John Simpson.
A number of Lakewood citizens – most from the Oakbrook neighborhood – traveled to Olympia this past Friday to voice their support of Senate Bills 5038 and 5040.
These individuals should be proud of what they said and how they conducted themselves in speaking to members of the Senate Committee on Behavioral Health & Long-Term Care.
Not one of these individuals spoke against the existence of adult family homes when they are properly utilized; rather, they spoke in opposition to how some of these homes are improperly used to shelter sexually violent predators (SVPs).
Both bills have been introduced by Senator Steve O’Ban, Republican, 28th Legislative District. Senator Steve Conway, Democrat, 29th Legislative District is a sponsor.
A work of common sense, SB 5038 is clear: The Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) must stop the placement of these individuals into adult family homes.
In fact, the bill requires DSHS to place these individuals in facilities that have enhanced services and staffing to provide proper care and supervision.
If passed the bill would end the billeting of SVPs in Lakewood adult family homes, safe guard the safety of the vulnerable individuals residing in these homes and begins the process of restoring a sense of safety in neighborhoods like Oakbrook.
An example of equity, SB 5040 states that institutionalized persons with histories of criminal justice involvement will not be dropped only into Pierce County and Lakewood, but rather will be returned to their original county of residence.
Joining the Oakbrook Neighborhood contingent in speaking in support of these bills were Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro, West Pierce County Fire & Rescue Chief Jim Sharp, Lakewood City Council Member John Simpson, Lakewood City Manager John Caulfield, and Pierce County Council Member Doug Richardson.
If the legislature employs a measure of common sense and equity, both bills should pass.
Mr. Simpson is a Lakewood City Council Member.