Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Police in rural Turner Falls, Mass., asking for volunteers to help find and discard used needles

Now that snow is finally melting in the Northeast, some towns, like rural Turner Falls, Mass., are facing a new dilemma—used needles popping up in unlikely places. Because heroin is cheaper and easier to find in rural towns and Massachusetts legalized hypodermic needle possession in 2006, discarded syringes are turning up everywhere in Turner Falls, Karen Brown reports for NPR. (Brown photo: Volunteer Patrick Pezzati searches yards in Turners Falls, Mass., for discarded heroin needles)

Turner Falls police chief Chip Dodge said his force is too small to keep up with cleanups, Brown writes. That has led local police to ask citizen volunteers for help. Dodge told Brown, "It's a very strange request, I will admit. It's sort of like asking somebody to pick up a weapon. I absolutely have faith in the community, and I do believe they have the common sense to not injure themselves."

Last month's police log consists of found syringes include two by a tree in a park, one on a sidewalk, another by an ATM and another sticking into a bank of snow, Brown writes. "The final straw was when a 2-year-old boy stepped on a syringe in his back yard and ended up in the hospital. That's when Dodge posted his request on the department's Facebook page, asking Turners Falls residents to help pick up—carefully—dirty needles." (Best Places map: Turner Falls)

Community members in Scott County, Indiana, which has faced an HIV epidemic with more than 100 reported cases, are also volunteering to pick up used needles, Anders Kelto reports for NPR. 

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