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 4 years. 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 48
For reporting period 48 (11/9/2016-12/8/16), 230 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers. 57 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 173 needles were found by City workers.
Four-Year-old Girl Picks Up Needle at Manresa Beach
- A four-year-old girl picked up a needle at Manresa Beach. Fortunately she was not stuck. (1395N).
Significant Finds For Reporting Period 48
- Needles, drug paraphernalia, and condoms were dumped one block from Gault School (1388N);
- A needle was found on the playground of a private school on the Westside (1404N);
- 5 needles were found outside of the Broadway Playhouse as kids ran around during their play practice (1406N);
- A syringe filled with fresh blood was tossed over a church fence (1409N);
- Needles were found in several other cities within the County – Aptos, Soquel, Capitola, and Ben Lomond (1396N, 1397N, 1399N, 1401N, 1408N);
Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 48:
- Arana Gulch;
- San Lorenzo Park;
- Cowell Beach Restrooms
NIPS Finds In The Past Year:
Overview of Last 4 Years
- Total Number of Needles Reported Found: 12,608
- Average Number of Needles Found Per Month: 262
- 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 4 years.
- 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?v=e4LJcnNUg8s&feature=youtu.be
- The County must allow the public to comment on the SSP without censorship of criticism.
- 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.
- The County should place more emphasis on rehabilitative services (according to the SSP’s 2014 report, less than 1% of SSP clients went into rehab; according to the SSP’s October 2016 monthly report, only 17% of clients were given drug treatment education).
Best regards – Needles Solutions Team
Attachments: NIPS workbook, City Parks & Rec needles log for November 2016, Photos