“Of course, we don’t know who’s used that so we don’t know what kind of communicable diseases might be associated with the possibility of other’s people’s bodily fluids, blood being on those needles,” said Kodiak Police Chief Ronda Wallace. “So people run risks of being poked by those needles and the possibility of contracting those diseases themselves, and additionally being exposed to whatever drug could have been in that needle.”
Of the needles reported to the Alaska State Troopers, spokesman Eric Olsen said they are often found in pull offs and parks as well as playgrounds. He said a lot of the ones reported are found by children.
“We find drug paraphernalia at playgrounds all the time, and hear about it,” Olsen said.
Within police jurisdiction, sometimes the needles are found around dumpsters after having probably fallen out. They’re also found by kids in wooded areas or alongside roads and bike paths during spring clean up.
Wallace said some of them may be from diabetics or other legal intravenous needle uses, but there’s no way to know for sure. She said the state crime lab does not test found needles.
Of the ones reported to the troopers, Olsen said probably all of them are related to illegal drug use.
“The chances are very high,” Olsen said. “Meth and heroine, it’s out of control here in our town, obviously, and as I’ve said many times previously.”
Reports are sporadic and neither Wallace nor Olsen could give a number of how many are found.
“I couldn’t even give you a good guesstimate on that,” Wallace said. “We could go a few months, and we don’t have any reports. And then we can go a month and have several found and turned in.”
Olsen agreed and said how often they’re found depends on a variety of factors.
“It depends on the type of weather conditions: what’s on the ground, ice, snow, dirt,” Olsen said. “If people are out for the holidays, when they’re out and about out of doors.”
People who find needles should not touch them, and should notify the proper authorities.
“We ask that they do call us, if they see it, don’t mess with it,” Wallace said. “Contact the police department because we have the proper gear to use and the proper method to dispose of them.”
“Within someone’s residence or immediately within our area, we’ll respond, we’ll pick it up and we’ll refer to destroy,” Olsen said. “We don’t want anybody hurting themselves or contracting any diseases or anything like that.”
In more remote areas and “out the road,” people should leave the needle alone and cover it with rocks, Olsen said.
However, reports outside the immediate area are non-existent. “I don’t get reports of needles out the road,” Olsen said, “It just doesn’t happen.”
Contact Julie Herrmann at firstname.lastname@example.org.