To: Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the Santa Cruz City Council
Please find the Take Back Santa Cruz Needles Solutions Team Needles in Public Spaces (NIPS) report attached. This is a log of citizen reports of needles found in public spaces for the last 45 months. The log was created as a reference so that someone can use the data to:
- Keep the County and City aware that there is an ongoing problem;
- Determine if the needles found in public spaces are increasing or decreasing;
- Provide data to the City and County so that “hot spot” patterns can be identified for City/County cleanup; and to
- Give the community a place to log their finds.
Total NIPS Finds for Reporting Period 45
For reporting period 45 (8/9/2016-9/8/16), 423 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers. 78 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 345 needles were found by City workers.
Child Mistakes Syringe for Thermometer
Other Significant Finds For Reporting Period 45
- City workers found over 100 needles along the San Lorenzo River Levee (City Needles Log August 2016);
- City rangers found 139 needles at Sycamore Grove (City Needles Log August 2016);
- A citizen getting his boat ready for the Begonia Festival found a needle (1307N);
- A citizen found approximately 40 needles in an encampment next to her yard (1302N);
- 4 needles were found in the Depot Park restroom by a four-year-old and parent (1295N);
- Before going on hiatus, the Leveelies found 8 needles on three different occasions (1292N, 1294N, 1300N)
Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 45
- San Lorenzo River/Levee
- Sycamore Grove
- Depot Park
- Cowell Beach
- Neary Lagoon
- Arana Gulch
Overview of Last 45 Months
- Total Number of Needles Reported Found: 11,745
- Average Number of Needles Found Per Month: 261
- Source of needles: Again, based on the frequent presence of other items from the SSP such as water capsules, cookers, and alcohol wipes, we conclude that a significant number of needles found in public spaces likely originated from the SSP (and obviously were not returned for exchange.) However, there are other needles being found that do not match those given out by the SSP, so there are presumably other sources of discarded needles.
- Needle Sticks: We have confirmed 10 cases of people being stuck by needles (including 5 children) in the last 45 months.
$4.6 Million Verdict Against Target for Parking Lot Needle Stick Injury
A jury recently awarded a South Carolina woman $4.6 million in damages after she was stuck by a needle in a Target parking lot. The woman’s 8-year-old daughter initially picked up the used syringe. The mother was injured when she swatted the needle from her daughter’s hand. The side effects of the anti-HIV medication the mother was prescribed caused her to be bedridden and unable to care for her family. The woman’s husband had to take time off of work as a result.
As we have expressed repeatedly, the psychological and financial impacts of a needle stick injury can be devastating to the victim as well as the victim’s family. This verdict illustrates the willingness of juries to hold property owners accountable for discarded needles and to award monetary damages to compensate for needle stick injuries.
- The County must operate a true 1:1 exchange to ensure that no needles from the Syringe Services Program are ending up in our public spaces. Former SSP clients whom we’ve interviewed stated that they regularly received clean needles without exchanging dirty ones. Furthermore, discarded needles are regularly found with other items from the SSP, such as sterile water capsules.
- The County must bring itself into compliance with the Health and Safety Code and the Brown Act by giving proper, timely notice and an opportunity to the public to comment on the Syringe Services Program and its biennial report. The public is currently being denied that opportunity. https://www.youtube.com/watch
- Consistent with its goal to reduce the transmission of disease, the County should establish a fund for needle stick victims who do not have insurance to cover their treatment.
Best regards – Needles Solutions Team