Hundreds of Hypodermic Needles Found at Playground in North Reading

Needles were recovered at Clarke Park.

Hundreds of hypodermic needles were found by DPW workers on Jan. 9 at Clarke Park in North Reading. Police recovered the needles and other drug paraphernalia.

On Wednesday, a DPW employee noticed illegal trash dumping at Clarke Park and notified the police department. DPW employees found hundreds of hypodermic needles in the trash at the park. Police worked with the DPW and recovered the needles and other drug paraphernalia.

Due to the incident, police issued this advisory:

“Over the past six years, we’ve seen a significant increase in needles improperly disposed of on the side of the road and in public areas,” said Police Chief Michael Murphy. “It is a real health and safety issue. We are very concerned about a child or someone who is unaware of the danger, picking up one of these discarded contaminated needles.”

Police believe the increase in dirty syringes littering North Reading’s neighborhoods is a result of the state’s 2006 decision to legally allow people to buy and carry hypodermic needles without a prescription.

It was illegal to possess a hypodermic needle in Massachusetts until an act to prevent the spread of HIV and Hepatitis C was adopted by the House and Senate. The idea was to combat the spreading of these diseases through shared needles by allowing anyone, including illegal drug users, to purchase clean needles.

However, the number of police incidents involving syringes recovered from public places has more than quadrupled since the change took effect in September 2006. Police believe changing the law devalued the street worth of syringes, making them much more accessible to the illicit drug user.

Most legal uses of syringes are properly disposed of in a safe manner. It is the use of syringes for illegal intravenous drug use that is the most concerning. Most illegal users will dispose of these syringes in public places to distance themselves from the illegal activity. 

Needles discarded on the side of roads are difficult to detect. They may be from illegal drug users and could pose a health risk. Police are urging the public not to touch them. Don’t let your pets come into contact with them and don’t ignore them. It is important that anyone finding a needle in any public area contact the North Reading Police Department at 978-664-3131 for proper disposal.

Rob January 11, 2013 at 02:18 PM
It's time to end the war on drugs.
E Sirge January 12, 2013 at 09:35 AM
This article makes no sense. That program they speak of is called a "Needle EXCHANGE"...which means, when you bring in your USED needles, you then get clean ones, FREE of charge. If these needles were given by that program, they would not be littered in a park. They would have been taken BACK to the needle exchange to get new, free, clean needles to use. They also receive a card that they may carry with them, and when shown to law enforcement it will prevent them from receiving charges for paraphernalia. Hmm..."Let's throw these syringes away so we have to actually purchase needles with money AND aren't protected from paraphernalia charges!" Right. So with that being said, this has nothing to do with that program. If you ask me it's either a conspiracy by the police force or media to try to BLAME that program so they can do away with it, or the media that reported this story is specifically pointing out the program because they don't agree with it (and also know nothing about it- IGNORANCE on their part).
Janine Largent January 12, 2013 at 01:52 PM
E Sirge is correct. These are syringes used for insulin injection. The needles are not designed to be used intravenously. I am not saying they couldn't be, but clearly not the best choice. They also hold a very limited amount of liquid (1.0 ml maximum). Diabetic's are trained to dispose of their needles properly. These syringes were likely stolen from a diabetic possibly for steroid use.
Ben Hicks January 23, 2013 at 05:09 AM
You really think that all these junkies go through this needle exchange program? Addicts will find a way to get needles no matter what and continue to ditch them wherever they can.
Hugh Janus April 03, 2013 at 12:50 AM
The diabetics all of sudden are completely out of control! What are they on heroin or something!


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