The Charleston Police department has something of a photo gallery of all the recent findings of hypodermic needles discarded in public, found at crimes scenes, or on suspects. They say many come from the free needle exchange program at the Kanawha-Charleston health department.
“We have become a mecca for people to get these needles. And following the people to get the needles, are people that sell them illegal drugs,” said Mayor Danny Jones, City of Charleston.
We’ll discuss the topic in-depth this Sunday on “Inside West Virginia Politics.” Police say the needles are leading to a spike in other crimes. They and the Mayor want them outlawed.
“Most of the people that go to needle exchange, they don’t have jobs, they don;t have any money. They are IV drug users, so they have to come up with the money. Because, the drugs aren’t free – the needles are free – but the drugs aren’t. So, they’ll break in your car, anything that they can,” said Capt. Mark Abbott, Charleston Police Department.
The health department worries, that addicts will go back to reusing dirty, contaminated needles.
“But I think what the end result will be, is it may be something devastating for Charleston and that’s an outbreak of HIV or Hepatitis C,” said John Law, spokesman for the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department.
Another organization with a harm reduction program, has a strict policy on needle exchanges.
“We have a red box container, and they are all placed back into that container. It’s very explicit form the day one visit. You know you’re going to get 30 needles. You have to bring back 30-needles. If you don’t bring back needles, then you’ll be expelled form the program,” said Dr. Angie Settle, West Virginia Health Right.
Several other West Virginia communities have needle exchange programs.
“Also this week, we’ll get a review of the recently completed Legislative Session, from a fiscally conservative organization,” said Mark Curtis, host of Inside West Virginia Politics.