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 38 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 38
For reporting period 38 (1/9/2016-2/8/16), 291 needles found in public spaces were logged. This count includes citizen reports, community group reports and reports by City workers. 70 needles were found by citizens and community groups; the other 221 needles were found by City workers.
Significant Finds For Reporting Period 38
In what his father described as a “rite of passage for Santa Cruz youth”, a 5-year-old found his first needle at Cowell Beach. (1107N)
There were multiple needle finds at Seabright Beach again. (1078N, 1080N, 1082N, 1083N, 1091N, 1095N)
A needle was found in front of Garfield Park Library while children were inside for the Homework Help Program. (1073N).
A four-year-old and her mother found in a needle in front of a mobile home park. (1074N).
A 15-year-old found a needle on Water Street. (1075N).
There were two separate finds at Delaveaga Park by City workers (Jan. 2016 City workers needle log.)
Santa Cruz City Park Rangers found large quantities of needles while cleaning up encampments, including 57 needles at the East Levee at Broadway, 37 at West Levee, and 44 at Harvey West Park (Jan. 2016 City workers needle log.)
Hot Spot NIPS Locations for Reporting Periods 38
- Seabright Beach
- San Lorenzo Park
- San Lorenzo River/Levee
- Main Beach
- Cliff Street walkway
- Harvey West Park
- May Avenue
Child Stuck by a Needle in Corralitos Park
- We confirmed that a fourth child has been stuck by a needle in a public place in Santa Cruz County. On December 30, 2015, a four-year-old girl picked up a needle in the gravel parking lot area of Aldridge Park in Corralitos. She suffered a poke to the hand and spent three hours in the Emergency Room. Fortunately, since the poke was not deep, and the needle appeared “old,” emergency room personnel felt that the chances of disease transmission were slim. Unlike many of our other needle stick victims, she will not need to undergo further testing or take anti-viral medications. Her mother provided photos of the needle stick injury, as well as the needle itself. They are attached to this report.
- Note: Because needle stick injuries are “controversial” we do not include every report in our Log. We only include reports after we are able to receive independent confirmation, typically by interviewing the needle stick victim (or parent), as well as witnesses to the injury. Examples of needle stick injury reports NOT included in our Log:
o An email from Councilmember Micah Posner to a member of the public in which he states that he is friends with a child who was “pricked” at a local park. Because neither Mr. Posner nor the parent of the child have spoken with us about this incident, it is not in our log.
o A report from a citizen in the emergency room who overhead an exchange another patient seeking treatment for a needle stick.
o Statements from staff taking blood tests from needle stick patients indicating that they have done blood tests for numerous other needle stick victims (but cannot disclose any further information for privacy reasons).
o Statements from staff in pediatrician’s offices that they have treated numerous other needle stick victims (but cannot disclose any further information for privacy reasons).
NIPS Finds In The Past Year+
2/9/2015-3/8/15: 340 (Note: Quantity increased by a conservative estimate of 200 after the Needles Team obtained additional information concerning City needle finds through Public Records Act Request.)
1/9/15 – 2/8/15: 187
Overview of Last 38 Months
- Total Number of Needles Reported Found: 9,985
- 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 8 cases of people being stuck by needles (including 4 children).
Media Coverage of Needles in Public Spaces
Kalya Holt says
Thank you TBSC! The Sentinel Hits and Misses nailed it: :TBSC has successfully helped keep this community’s ugly drug and discarded-needle problem in front of the public. It’s not easy to look at it, but the group deserves thanks for keeping it out there.: http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/article/NE/20160222/LOCAL1/160229925