‘I Feel It’s Worse’: Parts of Southern Minneapolis Still Struggling With Needle Trash – WCCO

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – It’s been over two years WCCO first reported hazardous needle litter problem in parts of southern Minneapolis.

At that time, Minneapolis firefighters planned to collect the needles until the city found a better solution. But Melanie Rucker, Deputy Chief of the Minneapolis Fire Department, says the problem is likely worse despite her efforts.

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“This year, it seems like almost twice the number of injections we have received, and there has been an increase in some overdoses and drug-related responses,” Rucker said.

Minneapolis Fire Stations 5 and 7 on Bloomington and Franklin streets are the busiest, with firefighters collecting hundreds of needles in the last month alone.

WCCO revisited an alley near 25th and Bloomington streets, where syringes with needles are still everywhere. But the most alarming needles are hidden in the pavement under the weeds.

(credit: CBS)

Greg Lough, who has lived in the neighborhood for 14 years, says he’s actually seen fewer needles since some venues closed, like a nearby gas station.

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“I don’t have a lot of patience with this, but I also have a certain amount of empathy,” Lough said. “Do I like it? Never. If I can kick the habit, they can think about it too.”

Despite prevention efforts and setup, says Noya Woodrich of the Minneapolis Department of Health needle drop boxes The opioid crisis, which has already garnered thousands of needles this year, is intensifying.

“We saw a significant increase in the number of fatal overdoses in 2019 and 2020,” Woodrich said. “I often hear complaints of people standing on the sidewalk and shooting, and people are sick of seeing it and people are sick of seeing it from their kids.”

He also still receives needle throwing complaints, and often.

“I feel like it’s worse again,” Woodrich said. “We need to prevent the problem from becoming a problem. We need to help our young children not turn to opioids.

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The Minneapolis Department of Health uses some American Recovery Plan funds to pay for the needle drop box program as well as some prevention work with organizations that serve youth.

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