Bloomington neighbors concerned over syringes

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Some residents in Bloomington are raising concerns after they say they're seeing too many syringes on their streets.

Nicole Rice said she's found multiple improperly disposed needles walking near South Henderson Street, including one at a bus stop and another not far from school property.

"It's pretty sad because we've got young kids, you know what if a parent don't see that?" she said.

"We used to walk our dog in the backyard, now we can't do that because you stumble on the needle you might get stuck," neighbor John Hogue said.

It's a snapshot, they say, of the drug epidemic plaguing their community and others across the country.

"People to need to wake up and stand up and start saying something about it," Rice said.

There are efforts in Bloomington. The Indiana Recovery Alliance offers a syringe service program that lets participants exchange needles for clean ones, have access to naloxone and connects them to resources.

"We actually just had a weekly walk with the community. We went down tot he park looking for disposed syringes and educate in the community about what to do if you find them and we've seen over time less and less being found in the community," said Christopher Abert, the organization's executive director.

It says there are also disposal sites at the Indiana Recovery Alliance at 118 S. Rogers St. and at the Monroe County Solid Waste Management District at 3400 S. Walnut St, which will only take FDA-approved sharps containers.

"People are scared to carry them. So on one side you have syringe services that are sanctioned by the state and on the other side you have the state seeking felony charges against people that are caught with those syringes so we need a reform on criminalization of syringes," Abert said.

If someone does find one, the Monroe County Health Department said you can call them and they'll send someone to get it as soon as staff is available. They can also provide a syringe container. If you pick it up yourself, the health department has instructions for you to follow. You can find those here.

Rice said she used a soda can to help dispose of one she found earlier this week, but she's tired of seeing them.

"Something needs to be done," she said.