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Massena Drug Free Coalition sweeping parks for discarded needles

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MASSENA - The Massena Drug Free Coalition along with volunteers will conduct sweeps of the parks in Massena at 10 a.m. Saturday. The purpose of these sweeps is to look for discarded hypodermic needles.

The group will meet at 10a.m. at the Greater Massena Chamber of Commerce Office, 16 Church St., to receive safety training, be organized into groups and be deployed.Only trained personnel will be handling any hypodermic needles or sharps that are located.Volunteers will simply be used to look for the items and if located a trained person will then collect the item.

The Massena Central School District’s Safety Team will be working on a safety presentation to made to students aimed at increasing awareness of this problem, and educating our kids of the dangers of hypodermic needles and what to do if they see one.

The Massena Drug Free Coalition is working on a public relations campaign aimed at increasing awareness of this problem and educating the public on the dangers of hypodermic needles and what to do if they see one.

More information on the Expanded Syringe Access Program (ESAP) is available at www.health.ny.gov/diseases/aids/consumers/prevention/needles_syringes/esap/overview.htm. The program provides access to clean needles for people who inject drugs.

“Recognizing that this program brings with it controversy, it is important that we understand that the main idea behind this program is to reduce the spread of disease.Not just amongst illegal drug users, but throughout all our citizenry,” Massena Police Chief Timmy J. Currier said.

He released the following information on Monday:

“In recent years, Massena, like many communities has been dealing with an increased crime rate, which can be attributed to the increase use of illegal drugs.

“A balance of prevention, enforcement and treatment is the only chance we have.

“On the prevention side, we need a renewed focus on values, whether it’s through ones spiritual beliefs,improved parenting skills, stronger positive peer influences in our young people’s lives, or a combination of all these.Our young people need good influences and something to do.

“We have a great education system, however too many of our young people are not succeeding.We must do better.We know in NY State if you fail to graduate on time you are 3 1/2 times more likely to be arrested and 8 more times likely to go to jail.

“We need economic development so our young people have jobs and hope.That’s easy to say, and hard to do, but it is a reality and we must put resource toward this.

“On the treatment side we have to ask ourselves the very simple question, do we have enough services available in northern NY to deal with the level of addiction we face.The answer is no.The services that are currently available are top notch, but too little. “Addiction is a lifelong battle that requires support.

“From my perspective, dealing with the increased crime, which we know is related to our drug problem, is necessary, but we can’t arrest our way out of the heroin epidemic facing our communities.

“Whatever resources we have locally, at the state level and federally, in my view, need to be prioritized in a way that addresses one of the biggest challenges that many communities face - illegal drugs and problems that come with them.

“I’m so proud of the work our Drug Free Coalition is doing. Hard working dedicated professionals and volunteers that are working to bring solutions to a challenging problem.However, locally we have limitations.A regional effort, a state effort and a national effort is required to adequately address this issue.

“The time for action is now!

“Since January 2013, the police department has received 61 complaints of discarded hypodermic needled that were found by citizens.These needles are dangerous and cause a significant safety concern for our community.

“I’d like to see some serious discussion about migrating to a needle exchange program, and requiring those taking advantage of this program to turn in used needles for new ones.Along with reducing the spread of disease, we can then reduce the number of improperly discarded syringes around town, thereby reducing the threat to everyone, most notably our children.

“I have to admit, personally, I am on the fence about this program.I recognize its value in reducing the spread of disease, yet I wonder if we are making drug use more convenient for people.Either way, if we are going to provide access to syringes, let’s do this in a manner that reduces the risk to innocent people and requiring addict to exchange needles seems like a logical step.”

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