Last week at Manzanita Park, an 8-year old boy was stuck by a used syringe while playing at Manzanita Park according to multiple sources. The individual received medical treatment and is apparently alright, but will need to undergo blood testing in several months.
Community Services Department Director Larry Pasco informed the city council about the incident via e-mail:
Subject: Incident at Manzanita Park
Mayor, Mayor Pro Tem and City Council Members,
This afternoon a participant of the Boys and Girls Club at their facility located at Manzanita Park, was stuck by a needle from a syringe. The incident occurred in a planter just outside of the Boys and Girls Club building where an 8 year old male was looking for bugs in foliage within the planter, and a syringe was found concealed in the inside of a bush. Apparently the actual prick from the needle did not occur when it was discovered by the child, it happened as it was being transported by the child inside of the facility to alert B & G staff. Paramedics responded and recommended that the child be taken to a local hospital for monitoring. I just spoke to a Supervisor at the facility who conveyed that they would not have any further details until tomorrow morning.
Contracted park maintenance personnel perform daily litter and trash pick-up at all park facilitates; however in response to this incident both Park staff and contracted personnel will conduct a thorough search of the park to insure that any additional needles or drug paraphernalia are not hidden in any foliage. The shrubbery where this needle was found is not in a location where any illegal camping activity is taking place. Park Rangers and Lyons Security will also closely monitor the entire park to look for any drug use activity and report their observations to maintenance personnel so that we may focus our clean-up efforts accordingly to prevent future duplicate incidents. We take this issue very seriously and will work with staff from the Boys and Girls Club to devote all available resources to insure that we do not have a repeat incident.
Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.
Manzanita Park is located in District 3, represented by Councilman Jose F. Moreno.
City spokesperson Lauren Gold provided this comment to Anaheim Blog:
“No child should ever encounter a needle in a park. Sadly, that can be the case across California with easier access to needles statewide and minimal consequences for public drug use.
As a city, we are doing everything we can at our level to combat the proliferation of needles and public drug use.
Our City Council has unanimously, adamantly and repeatedly opposed allowing a needle exchange program to come to Anaheim. We have joined the county of Orange in a lawsuit to fight it.
Every day, we work hard to ensure Anaheim’s parks are safe for everyone. As unfortunate as it is, we have trained our parks employees how to properly dispose of needles when they’re found during regular cleaning and maintenance. After the Manzanita incident, we went through and scrubbed the park again and will continue to be vigilant.
Our heart goes out to the boy and his family. While the problem of needles is real, thankfully, this is a rare occurrence in our parks and we encourage everyone to continue enjoying them.”
A few days before this incident, half a mile away at GOALS Academy charter school, a student found a used syringe at the school’s fence line. This prompted the reinforcement of the GOALS Academy fence with plywood:
GOALS Academy is located by La Palma Park, which is (again) becoming less public park than a outdoor haven for the homeless.
La Palma Park is adjacent to the area where the OC Needle Exchange Program plans to operate a mobile program to provide free syringes to drug addicts in the area bounded by the 91 Freeway, N. Anaheim Blvd., La Palma Avenue and Olive Street:
The OC Needle Exchange Program – which the council has opposed by joining the County’s lawsuit against it and imposing a moratorium of its own – would distribute a million free hypodermic syringes a year in Anaheim, Orange, Santa Ana and Costa Mesa. The program’s leaders admit they would recover, at most, 75% of those needles – meaning 250,000 syringes would be at large.
The OC Needle Exchange Program was booted from Santa Ana last year due to public health concerns stemming from used, discarded syringes. Mayoral candidate Ashleigh Aitken signed an online petition supporting its continued operation in Santa Ana.
It’s not hard to understand why ordinary working people – given their reliance on common sense and life experience – are reluctant to support the distribution of hundreds of thousands of syringes to drug addicts living in their neighborhoods and parks.