San Francisco supervisor pushes safe injection site after startling report about needles released

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Used hypodermic needles in parks, around tree trunks, even crosswalks; thousands of syringes are found in San Francisco every month. Here's a look at the growing problem and how the city is addressing it. (KGO-TV)

San Francisco's Public Works Department has some staggering new numbers that show the amount of used needles collected on city streets tripled in just one year.

On Monday alone, public works crew collected dozens of needles from containers near city hall called Pit Stop, as part of a program where users can responsibly drop them and be responsible. But still, thousands end up on the streets, creating a serious public health risk for everyone.

RELATED: City, neighbors divided over needle disposal boxes in SF parks

In the Civic Center neighborhood of San Francisco, we found syringes along the sidewalk, around trees, and even one even sitting in a crosswalk.

Neal Moore moved to the city from Bakersfield. Right now he's homeless. On Monday he was surprised to find a used needle underneath his leg.

"When I stood up, the newspaper blew away and there was an open capped syringe underneath it," he said.

RELATED: SF supervisor wants task force to explore safe injection sites

The public works department says in March alone, workers collected more than 10,000 needles. That's compared to close to 3,000 during the same month in 2016

Moore has seen syringes before, but never this close to him.

"I could have been poked by it or, you know, anybody walking by in flip flops or a child," he said.

Public works spokesperson Rachel Gordon said, "The thing that the public needs to do is contact 311. I cannot emphasize that enough."

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That service gives public works employees a better idea of where to find needles to dispose of them.

Containers are conveniently located near toilets as part of the Pit Stop program, allowing people to drop used needles in a box.

But city Supervisor London Breed says San Francisco has to do more. Vancouver is one many cities that started a safe injection site program. It's an idea she's spearheading in in the city.

"A safe injection site could, you know, enhance the protection of public safety," she said. "Do we know if it will solve the problem or not? No. But I don't think we should be unwilling to try."

Drug addiction is a complicated problem, and city officials say it has to be addressed with different approaches. That includes treatment, education, safe disposal and public awareness.

Related Topics:
newsdrugdrugsu.s. & worldillegal drugsstudysafetySan Francisco
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