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As I See It

Don’t hand out clean needles until dirty ones are returned



Would you volunteer to pick up dirty needles? An effort is underway to organize volunteers to pick up the thousands of hypodermic needles which litter the streets and playgrounds of La Crosse. This has become a big problem. The used needles are a danger to our community, especially our children. It also has been a big burden for La Crosse firefighters. They are in charge of picking up the needles now, but that puts a strain on the force. When a call to retrieve a needle comes in, an entire fire crew is dispatched to retrieve it. That is so that if a fire call comes in, the entire crew can respond without delay. Sometimes firefighters have to interrupt their training just to go pick up a single needle. Organizing community members to do that work instead makes sense. But it would also make sense for those handing out all these free needles to drug users in the name of public health to require that before users get any new needles, they return the old ones. It is estimated that the AIDS Resource Center handed out more than 200,000 free syringes last year. But many end up in our alleys and on our playgrounds. If this group is so concerned about public health they hand out free needles, they should also work to improve public health by insisting that dirty needles be turned in before any new ones are handed out.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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