An investigation has revealed an assortment of drug paraphernalia littered throughout a Bronx public park despite city-placed syringe disposal boxes meant to deal with the loose needles found scattered just feet from where children play and attend school.
A Fox 5 New York report on the park, located in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx, also found that disposal boxes placed near a playground in the bathrooms had been shuttered after they became “shooting galleries” for addicts.
“The situation has gotten much worse, and they supposedly put this disposal box for them to not drop their needles on the ground, but it’s like an open invite to get high,” Shameeca Ruiz, a resident who lives near the park, told Fox 5 New York. “If they don’t care to not get high around children, they don’t care to pick up their needles.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), heroin abuse has rapidly increased from 2010-2016. From 2015 to 2016, heroin overdose death rates increased by 19.5 percent, with nearly 15,500 people dying in 2016.
Footage from the report showed orange syringe tops, exposed needles and bags of unused drugs littered on the ground outside a baseball field where children were playing. Volunteer residents have attempted to clean up the park to make it safe to play.
“I’m doing this for the children here, because this is too much,” Rademes Ramos told the news outlet.
According to the report, the NYC Health and Parks department has placed syringe-disposal boxes in local parks throughout the Bronx to deal with an abundance of loose needles found by sanitation workers each month. Although the boxes have reportedly been making a difference in some areas, a considerable amount of drug abusers are still failing to dispose of their needles.
Concerned residents told the news outlet that addicts were breaking into the bathrooms in an attempt to access used needles, and that the presence of the disposal boxes were sending mixed messages about drug use.
“It’s an abundance of needles, everywhere, all strewn about. It just never stops,” Ruiz told Fox 5 New York.