Discarded drug needles being found in Arlington shopping centers, parks

ARLINGTON, Wash. -- Police in Snohomish County say the increase in heroin use is leading to another problem -- discarded needles are now being found in public places.

Tamara Blair likes bringing her family to the playground at Haller Park.

“It just has a lot of equipment to play on, and it’s all fairly new. There are usually families our age around here and kids to play with,” she says.

But Blair didn’t know police have been finding needles in the city’s parks and playgrounds in growing numbers.

“I’ll probably do a quick look around from now on, because that is really scary.”

Police say it is terrifying to think what might happen if a child got a hold of a discarded needle.

“We’ve had officers poked in the past,” says Arlington Police Deputy Chief Jonathan Ventura. “Even with us being trained and taking the best precautions, accidents can happen. I wouldn’t want to see it happen to anybody else, especially a child.”

That’s why they’re asking people who see needles in public places to let police know, so they can pick them up and dispose of them safely.

“Every one of our vehicles contains a sharps container now, because it’s become such a prevalent issue.”

Ventura showed us the number of needles that have been collected in the city over the last couple months.

“We found them in parking lots, parks, playgrounds, just anywhere,” he says.

They say they’re trying to go after the drug dealers in the area, but police can’t tackle this issue on their own.

“We need the community’s help. It’s not something we’re going to arrest our way out of, we need to get resources to the people behind the problem.”

Until then, they need people to be aware of the dangers that might be on the ground.

Blair says she’s going to warn her kids.

“I’ll definitely have a talk with them, because kids like to pick things up not knowing what they are. So I’ll talk to them about it.”

The city of Arlington does not have a non-emergency phone number. So they say people should call 911 if they see a needle. They just need to let the dispatcher know what the situation is.