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Apr 7, 2016 10:53 AM

Needles surfacing on Bristol roads, town wastewater


BRISTOL - The police department is warning citizens to be careful during spring cleanup as more needles were found along the side of the road.

"In any given community, you can't go more than 100 yards without seeing some evidence of the epidemic of heroin and the needles," said Police Chief Michael Lewis.

As the snow melts, officers have stepped up foot patrols, and they are paying particular attention to playgrounds and ball fields.

"It's certainly a concern of the police departments to have needles on the sides of the roads or areas where kiddos could be playing," Lewis said.

Scouring the ground for needles is now part of the daily shift, Lewis said. Officers have changed other protocols amid the drug crisis, they now wear two pairs of stab proof gloves when searching a suspect or a vehicle.

Lewis said many needles are found on the side of the road because users toss them out the window to discard evidence. Often times they aim for storm drains, which connects to the town waste water plant.

The Bristol Water & Sewer Department said they see needles on a daily basis in the water, and they recover them in the traps that are cleaned every few months.

"The biggest concern is when we're tearing apart pumps and working on the waste water those needles get tangled up in the rags. It's a concern to us because we're right in there with our hands and we definitely don't want to get pricked with those needles," said Superintendent Jeff Chartier.

Within one minute of being on site, NH1 News cameras rolled on two syringe caps and two needles floating through the waste water processing area. The department has sharps containers to safely dispose of the needles, Chartier said.

In addition to extra patrols, the police department is discussing the issue in area schools to warn students about drugs and the trail they leave behind.

Anyone who finds needles is urged to leave them alone and call 911 immediately.

Colleen Shaughnessy is a multimedia journalist for NH1 News. You can email her at cshaughnessy@nh1.com and follow her on Twitter, @ColleenNH1.

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