WA: Controversial needle exchange program suspended in Federal Way

ABC News –

A Federal Way woman posed as a drug user and said outreach workers gave her 100 clean needles.

Now it has city officials calling for a pause on the Federal Way needle exchange program in the city.

At a meeting Tuesday of the Federal Way City Council, at least a dozen neighbors expressed concerns about crime going up and needles turning up everywhere in the community.

While others said if the program is gone for good, it will only make things worse.

Fed up with pervasive drug use and littered needles captured in neighborhood photos, Grace Lubrano said she posed as a drug user to stake out a King County Needle Exchange Program in action.

Lubrano said she set up an appointment with the South County Outreach Referral and Exchange Program, also known as SCORE, in March.

She met a van at a park and ride.

“I went up to the van and I said I don’t have a needle to exchange, can I still get something?” Lubrano said. And the guy hands people a box of 100 needles. And that was it. Then I’m just seeing people there in the parking shooting up or they go down a couple of blocks shooting up.”

The mayor and council passed a resolution Tuesday night temporarily suspending needle exchange programs in Federal Way—until the city and King County can come up with another plan.

“My hope is that people on both sides will be able to understand the concerns of both sides,” said Mayor Jim Ferrell. “It is more important for us as community members about what we expect, what we deserve and then move forward as a community and report back.”

On its website, King County Public Health said the program has been successful in getting people who use drugs by injection off the streets and into treatment. King County said in the last two years the needle exchange program placed 739 people in drug treatment.

Some who’ve struggled with addiction, voiced concern about suspending the program in Federal Way.

“As someone who’s been there, running the needle exchange out of town isn’t going to reduce drug use, in fact it’s just going to increase HIV rates,” said a former addict.

“People will not have the chance to recover if they’re dead,” said another former addict.

The mayor said the city and county will take the next three months to come up with a plan to help people struggling with addiction.

“There’s really no grounds to bringing this program to the community and draw more addicts here and no one is speaks about what the drugs, where are they coming from?” said Lubrano. “It’s drawing Heroin

" target="_blank" >heroin dealers to our neighborhoods.”

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Tags: Addiction Services Harm Reduction Needle Exchange Opioid Epidemic Programs" >Needle Exchange Program
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