Last week, a Turlock woman woke up to find used syringes in her front lawn. After posting a photo of the needles on the Turlock Neighborhood Watch Facebook page, she found that she was not alone.
Another woman said that her mother-in-law had found two used syringes in her mailbox last week as well. Two others came forth on the same post saying they had also found used syringes recently.
“My kids could have been poked,” posted Heather Michelle on the Neighborhood Watch page. “The drug situation in Turlock is out of hand.”
Michelle also said that upon calling the police about the incident, she was told by a dispatcher to throw the syringes away herself. After refusing to touch the needles, she convinced dispatch to send an officer to properly dispose of the used syringes.
There may have been a miscommunication with the dispatcher, Turlock Police Department spokesperson Officer Mayra Lewis said, noting that citizens should always call the police if they discover used syringes.
“I am not aware of dispatchers telling the public to dispose of found syringes themselves,” said Lewis. “Used syringes are considered hazardous material. If Turlock residents find used syringes around their homes, we recommend that they do not try to dispose of them by themselves.
“Discarding them in a garbage receptacle does not eliminate the potential of someone getting pricked, and that is what we want to avoid,” continued Lewis. “We have qualified personnel who have been specifically trained on how to properly dispose of syringes that will respond to collect the syringe and properly dispose of it.”
Lewis said that notifying the police department of any ongoing problems in a neighborhood helps officers know what areas may need more patrol.
“We address issues that may affect that quality of life of Turlock residents and this is definitely one of them,” said Lewis. “We are dedicated to serving our community and I guarantee you that we will do everything we possibly can to combat this problem. We urge the public to call to report this, as it could possibly be resolved by simply having patrol units making a presence throughout the night to discourage this type of activity.”
Despite the many reports of used syringes, Lewis and Turlock Police Sgt. Stephen Webb both said they had not seen a recent rise in heroin usage in Turlock.