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IPD will pick up syringes found in public spaces

People finding syringes in a public place are asked to leave them alone and to call police to deal with it.

The Ironton Police Department has, like many people in the city, seen an increase in syringes left lying around.

“We’ve had numerous calls with people finding needles on sidewalks, in parking lots, playgrounds, baseball fields, football fields, everywhere in public” said IPD detective Capt. Joe Ross. “If you find any of these needles, do not pick them up. Do not let your kids pick it up.”

In a recent situation, the IPD was called to the Briggs Library after employees found a plastic box marked “Not Dope.” Inside the box was a syringe, baggies of methamphetamine, tin foil and a broken spoon. The story of the box has gone viral and been reported by television stations across America and even in Britain, Ireland and New Zealand.

Ross said people should call the Lawrence County Dispatch at 740-532-3525 and they will send an officer to secure the syringe.

“With the amount of calls we have had and the dangerous drugs we are getting off the streets, especially fentanyl, it is very, very deadly and it doesn’t take much at all to kill a person,” Ross said. “We take this very seriously as police officers and first responders. We take the safety of our citizens and the kids in Ironton very serious. That’s why we want the people in the city to call us and we will take care of it.”

Fentanyl is a narcotic painkiller that can cause respiratory distress or even death in high doses and is 50 times more powerful than heroin. Last August, 29 people were sickened at the Ross Correctional Institute when they were exposed to the drug. There have also been several cases of police officers getting sick after being exposed to fentanyl. In Miami in 2017, a 10-year-old boy died from a mixture of heroin and fentanyl after possibly being exposed to it at a park or pool.

Ross said that a lot of the times the needles are used over and over by addicts.

The Ironton Police Department has been issued “stick proof” gloves so the officers don’t accidentally come in contact with a needle that could contain anything from illegal drugs to diseases like hepatitis A.

“We have the gloves and the health department has given us sharpie boxes that we can put these needles as we get them,” Ross said.

He added that the police department does not deal with needles from people’s homes, only ones found in public spaces.

“It is only for ones that are on the streets or a public playground or something like that,” Ross said. “We don’t have anyway to dispose of needles for the public like that.”

There is a box to dispose of unwanted medication in the Ironton City Center but not needles.

“It’s in the outer lobby of the police department, it’s a white medication box,” Ross said.

He added that when people dispose of needles to please put them into a sealed container.

“We have had sanitation worker has been stuck with a needle while picking up trash. We have had a couple of police officers stuck by needles,” Ross said. “So when you dispose of a needle, please put it into a container with a lid for the safety of our sanitation workers or  anyone else that comes into contact with those needles.”

Ross said that in the future, he would like to do a presentation for students on recognizing the dangers of needles found in public and when to call the police.

“The Ironton Police Department is going to try to implement that for the younger kids,” he said. “They are curious and we want to teach them not to touch a syringe.”