LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Tippecanoe County Health Department is trying to ease the minds of neighbors living near the needle exchange program on North Sixth Street.
Health Department workers have been hosting weekly cleanups in the community since the exchange started in August.
So far, they say they've only found one used needle.
"It wasn't a needle from the program, but it was a needle near the program," said Tippecanoe County Health Department Environmental Secretary Amanda Balser.
Every Friday, the Tippecanoe County Health Department volunteers to search for needles in the community. They also pick up trash.
"We find a lot of glass," said Balser.
They know there has been a lot of backlash from neighbors since the needle exchange program started in August.
"We understand that neighborhood, they already have a lot of services in it and they are feeling burdened," said Balser. "But we are trying to help relieve some of that burden by cleaning up."
Last week, News 18 told you about two used needles found outside St. James Lutheran School about two blocks away from the needle exchange program. One was found behind this air conditioner. Another found in a parking lot across the street.
So, what do you do if you find a used needle on the ground?
"Never pick it up," said Balser. "Always call the health department if it's during our business hours which is 8-4:30. You can also call the police department."
The Health Department is working on a 24-hour hotline so police won't have to respond to needle calls.
"Our goal is to have that up and running by January 2018," said Balser.
"I think it's a good thing that they are actually trying to clean it up," said Jessica Gates who works at the YWCA located right next to the needle exchange program. "The needle exchange program still is a very scary thing just cause there are so many children in this area."
Gates didn't know the health department was hosting the clean sweeps. She may volunteer to help now.
"Absolutely, because we do have children coming in and out of the building and the park is right there by the health department too," said Gates. "So, we do as a community want to make sure that there is not needles on the ground as well."
If you would like to volunteer to help clean up the neighborhood, contact the Tippecanoe County Health Department.
It will provide safe gloves, sharps containers and trash bags.
The sweeps are every Friday from 3 until 4:30 p.m.
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