Editorial: We all live in drug neighborhoods | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: We all live in drug neighborhoods

Kristina Serafini | Tribune-Review
Officials process the scene of shooting in the parking lot of Big Lots in Ross on Tuesday, July 23, 2019. An officer was shot twice while conducting an operation with the Attorney General’s Bureau of Narcotics Investigations.

A drug buy is the kind of thing that could happen anywhere.

It doesn’t have to be a crack house. Money doesn’t just change hands in dark alleys and abandoned warehouses. There isn’t just one kind of neighborhood where people have drug problems.

The July 23 shooting at Northland Center on McKnight Road in the North Hills shows that sometimes these things happen in the most innocuous locations. It seems unlikely that anyone who dropped their kids off at the day care expected their little ones to be hustled off the playground when gunfire erupted at 1 in the afternoon.

As more people are affected by the opioid epidemic and the resurgence of powder and crack cocaine and crystal meth reported by addiction experts, and as more drugs flow into the area — like the recent million-dollar fentanyl seizure — it only makes sense that the grocery store where we shop or the pizza place where we pick up dinner might be right next to a drug deal.

Which means it’s only a breath away from a drug deal gone wrong.

This time it was a “buy-bust” operation set up by the state Attorney General’s Office. Suspect Omari Ali Thompson was the one who died; an undercover agent was shot twice but survived.

Some may criticize the time and place, but Attorney General Josh Shapiro isn’t wrong when he says the good guys “don’t get to dictate the terms” of all the deals. They can only manage them to try to ensure safety.

Instead, we should wonder how this would have happened if the buyer wasn’t a cop. What if it was a user who didn’t have money for the buy but did have a gun? What if it was another dealer? What if it was just an addict who wasn’t thinking clearly because of addiction?

How many ways are there for this deal to go wrong if the person on the other side of the buy didn’t have an obligation and responsibility to ensure the safety of others? What if his only motivation was his own fear or need or greed?

This is the way drugs hit our lives every day. This is why we have to find ways that destigmatize addiction while finding effective ways of both treating and preventing it.

When drugs are everywhere, we all live in drug neighborhoods.

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