When Meagan Hoffman woke up on Monday morning, she couldn't believe what she saw outside her bedroom window.
"In the video, you see young adults smoking what appears to be methamphetamine or crack. My boyfriend opened the blinds and said, 'Look. They're out there again.' I mean, this time they were right int he middle of everybody doing it ... and I just started filming it, just to say I have proof of it," Hoffman said.
When asked why she believed it was methamphetamine or crack-cocaine, Hoffman said she didn't have to assume anything... because she heard the confirmation herself.
"There were two of three of them (children) that were saying, 'Look at them smoking their meth pipe over there. They're smoking their drugs again.' It really hit me hard to know these little kids acknowledge what the adults are doing, so they're not just thinking they're smoking cigarettes or tobacco. They're acknowledging that it's a hard drug and it's very disturbing," she said.
We showed the video to Neighborhood Resource Officer Traci Ponto, who oversees the West Central neighborhood. Based on her observations, she believes methamphetamine or crack-cocaine was being used.
When she saw the drugs being smoked nearby children, she said, "It's absolutely disgusting."
However, Ponto also saw a positive side in the idea that a concerned resident took the initiative to shoot the video.
"We encourage everybody, when you have drug-related problems, to call that into Crime Check. Whether you get an officer or not really isn't important - it's about the documentation through Crime Check. The next thing is to get a hold of your neighborhood resource officer at your local C.O.P. Shop and let them know, 'Hey, I had to call the police. This is the address, this is what I saw, can you help me with this house?" Ponto said.
Ponto said providing a specific address is key, especially since a recent nuisance ordinance passed through the city of Spokane.
"With the new nuisance ordinance, I just need three valid problems in a 60-day time frame, or seven in a 12-month period. I need the address, I pull the calls for service on that address, and I might have a chronic nuisance right off the bat. I send the paperwork out to the people in charge of that property... we enter into an abatement agreement to solve the problem. It could lead to eviction, it could not, but it's whatever the person in charge and I can negotiate," she said.
However, property owners wouldn't always respond to paperwork sent out by Ponto, or other neighborhood resources officers through Spokane. That's why the new nuisance ordinance includes a specific provision, which fines property owners ignoring notices.
"With the new nuisance ordinance, if that property owner decides to blow us off, it's a $1,072 fine. If they decide not to fulfill their end of the bargain, they're looking at a $536 fine for each nuisance that continues," Ponto said.
"We understand that it's a process and that's going to take time. The tenant may continue to be a bad person a cause issues, so I can continue to write that person fines until the illegal eviction process is complete," she said.
To find your neighborhood's C.O.P.S. location, click here.