Does the Community Have A Say On the Syringe Services Program (“SSP”)?
“Can’t the public vote on it?”
No. Whether or not Santa Cruz County hosts a needle exchange is a public health decision made at the discretion of the County Board of Supervisors and Health Officer (Health & Safety Code Section 121349(b)).
“Is there a state agency that oversees the needle exchange?”
Needle Exchanges can also be authorized by the California State Department of Health (Health & Safety Code Section 121349(b)). However, because the SSP was authorized by the County, and not the California State Department of Health, the Department has declined to address community concerns over the Santa Cruz County program. Thus, oversight of our local needle program is at the County level.
“Since the SSP moved in to my neighborhood, we have been experiencing an uptick in suspicious activity and have been finding more needles. Is there anything that can be done?
Health and Safety Code Section 121349.2(a) places a duty on the County to address and mitigate the SSP’s adverse impacts on the community. If you have concerns that the SSP is having a negative impact on your neighborhood or the community at large, speak up. Send an email to the County Board of Supervisors and County Health Officer.
“Does the public get to comment on the Syringe Services Program”?
Section 121349.2(a) requires that the County give ample notice and an opportunity to comment on the SSP every two years. Section 121349.3(a) further requires that the Health Officer present a biennial report at an opening meeting of the Board of Supervisors on the status of the syringe exchange program and affording an opportunity for the public to comment on the program. “Ample notice” must be given to the public before the meeting allowing comment.
It has now been well over two years since the last report, and over two years since the last Board of Supervisors meeting with public comment.
- See more here at our blog
- What to do if you find needles and how to report to TBSC (link to our Resource page)
- Needles in the Community – What are the Risks? 3/12/2016 (article was written by a Public Health Researcher at the request of the Needles Solutions Team.)