Council President Nelson calls for swift action on audit recommendations addressing overdoses and crime

SEATTLE – Today the Office of City Auditor released a new audit, “Addressing Places in Seattle Where Overdoses and Crime are Concentrated: An Evidence-Based Approach,” and Council President Sara Nelson calls for officials to move with urgency to implement its recommendations. The report, which focused on a two-block area in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood and was conducted in partnership with over a half dozen local agencies, identifies existing resources and evidence-based strategies that have proved effective in other jurisdictions in addressing the overlapping issues of fentanyl-driven overdoses and crime.  

“This data-driven audit confirms what is obvious to many: today’s fentanyl-driven drug crisis is fueling property and violent crime,” said Council President Nelson. “We must rethink our current approach to addressing addiction and its impact on our communities and I urge the Executive and my Council colleagues to act quickly and collaboratively to implement the audit’s recommendations.” 

The audit makes eight specific recommendations, including: 

  • Adopting the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) place-based Strategic Prevention Framework to address crime and overdose hot spots.  
  • Using Snohomish County’s Multi-Agency Coordination Group as a model framework for coordinating City agencies in a unified approach.  
  • Examining current contracts with provider agencies to ensure they are meeting the “Good Neighbor” provisions.  
  • Developing a coordinated City plan for using local data derived from the federal Overdose Mapping and Application Program to respond to overdose spikes.  
  • Accepting assistance from the Drug Enforcement Administration and the U.S. Attorney to help the city investigate and prosecute fatal overdoses as they do in many other jurisdictions including Los Angeles and San Diego.  
  • Engaging in continuous evaluation of city efforts to best ensure that the new strategies and approaches avoid unintentionally creating harm. 

The full audit, accompanied by a letter from Council President Nelson, is available here


“Today’s audit offers a thoughtful and thorough look at a key public safety challenge that some of our communities face on a daily basis with seemingly little to no improvement. These public safety challenges won’t go away unless the city takes additional meaningful action that includes a coordinated effort to address permissive factors at the intersection of public safety and public health,”  

  • Councilmember Robert Kettle, Chair of Public Safety 

“We appreciate the partnership with the City of Seattle in this case study and are eager to look at the recommendations provided and work to address root causes of the issues covered in an evidence based and community conscious way.”  

  • Aaliyah Bains, Behavioral Health Program Manager, Plymouth Housing 

“Northwest National High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) is steadfast in its support of agencies and organizations that work diligently to bolster communities, so they are safe and healthy. As mentioned in the report, HIDTA’s Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program is just one example of how the sharing of timely data furthers public safety and public health efforts.”  

  • Jonathan Weiner, Executive Director, Northwest HIDTA 


The audit was conducted after a 2023 request by Mayor Harrell and former City Council President Debora Juarez to study evidence-informed approaches for addressing areas in the city where crime and overdose incidents are concentrated. 

Next steps

The audit will be presented at the Governance, Accountability & Economic Development Committee meeting on Thursday, July 11 at 2 p.m. Council President Nelson will hold a media availability before and immediately following the meeting.