Tippecanoe County Health Department responds to needles in community

The Tippecanoe County Health Department is responding after 124 needles were found in one Lafayette home this week.

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 6:37 PM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 6:38 PM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — The Tippecanoe County Health Department is responding after 124 needles were found in one Lafayette home this week.

As we reported Thursday, police say the needles came from the county's needle exchange program.

The department said it's working to get police the tools they need to stay safe during collection.

"It was just laying here on the ground," said Health Department Environmental Secretary Amanda Balser.


Last Friday, Balser found a used needle at the entrance of Linnwood Park in Lafayette.

"Came down this way and actually found paraphernalia," said Balser as she showed News 18 where she found it in the park. 

The needle Balser found wasn't the same kind the health department passes out. But she said they're out looking every week just in case.

"We have the proper techniques to do that," said Balser. 

Along with puncture-proof gloves, a sharps container, and a place to bring dirty needles, the health department also keeps track of the number of needles found.

"When you see our reports, those come out as community needles," said Balser. 

The Health Department is working to release a public database, so people can see return numbers on a regular basis. It also hopes to get grants to buy more puncture-proof gloves for police.

"Our number one goal of Gateway to Hope is to stop the spread of disease," said Balser. 

Balser said that's why they give out clean needles but she doesn't believe the 124 needles found in a home on S. 28th Street belonged to one person. Ten people were arrested that day.

"If they did have them in there and they were part of the syringe exchange program, we would be looking at probably more than one participant being in there," said Balser. 

Balser said the department is working with law enforcement to create a hotline for needles found in the public.

Right now, you can call the Tippecanoe County Health department or the Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office. They will come to safely collect any needles in the community. 

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