County Needle Exchange Program Makes Mess of Parks

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Something a little different for everyone on a Sunday morning. Earlier this week there was a story in the Woodland Daily Democrat that a flood of hypodermic needles was showing up in Woodland City Parks.

A year ago, the County Board of Supervisors approved a needle-exchange program in an effort to cut down on diseases spread through the use of intravenous drug users.

However, now the Woodland City council is shocked and frustrated to find out that a county health contractor has been distributing these needles in one of the parks, without consulting the city.
This prompted strongly worded complaints from city officials to the county.

The Board of Supervisors voted by a 4-1 margin to support this program a year ago. The one dissenting voice was Matt Rexroad.

Mr. Rexroad is quoted in the Daily Democrat article:

One county official who does not support the program, however, is Matt Rexroad, the only supervisor to vote against the program when it came up before the board last August.

“I wish I could kill this program so badly, but I can’t,” Rexroad said.

Rexroad said beyond the health risk of having used needles in public places lies the greater question of the program’s effectiveness.

“I keep hearing, if we do this it prevents disease and it will save us money,” Rexroad said. “I don’t know if I believe that in this case.”

The program cost the county around $100,000 to implement – money, Rexroad said, that would be more effectively spent providing the county’s impoverished children with health insurance.

“We’re talking about $100,000 for a program, when the county is in an economic free-fall right now,” Rexroad said. “In terms of bang for your buck, I would rather put $100,000 in the hands of children than the hands of IV drug users.”

I find myself in an interesting position on this issue. I support the program in concept. I think these diseases are a severe public health threat in some areas and such exchange programs have been shown to be effective.

However, at the same time, I am appalled at the response of Cheryl Boney, who is the deputy director of public health programs for Yolo County.

When she was made aware of the problem, she pulled the plug on the park exchange:

Boney noted that when the city notified her of the problem, she immediately pulled the plug on the park exchange.

“We were made aware of the concern of doing it in the park,” Boney said. “Once we were aware of it, we took care of it.

This is where I start having a problem, who told her to do a needle exchange in a Woodland City Park without informing the Woodland City Council? Could you imagine what would happen in Davis if they did that here without consulting the Davis City Council?

She continues:

The new program is a work-in-progress, Boney said, and Freeman Park was a learning example for the county.

“It’s a new program and we’re working out the details,” Boney said.

Working out a few details? Details like informing the city and the police as to what you are doing? Like handing out needles in a park to begin with, which concentrates drug usage in an area where children and families are likely to frequent?

The article continues:

“[Woodland City Manager Mark] Deven reported in a City Council weekly newsletter Friday that the county agreed to cease distribution in the park and considered labeling their needles to better track where they end up.”

That is a good start. Here is the thing, this may be a new program to Yolo County, but this is not a new concept. So when the Ms. Boney is saying we’re still working out the details it does not really make sense. Details can be gleaned from other programs. Very basic things should apply, namely interjurisdictional cooperation.

It is commonsense that if you are going to hand out needles in a City’s park you inform the city and their police department about it. It also seems commonsense that maybe a city park is not the place to hand out needles.

Ms. Boney continues:

“We’re kind of going through that initial education period… We hope there will be support for the program.”

It is hard to support such a program when you do not have confidence in those who are administrating it. It could be a good program, but there were such basic failings at the onset, that even those of us who are strongly in support of such efforts have no choice but to question it.

Where is the accountability here? I respect that Matt Rexroad opposes this, but what I really want to see is someone step up and make it work. Where do the rest of the county board of supervisors stand on this?

Ms. Boney believes that if the program prevents one case of HIV in the county, it will be a net savings to the county. I hope that is correct and it is one of the reasons I continue to support the program. However, I continue to have to question the competence of those administering this and the oversight. Who oversees administration of these type of programs? What is the board of supervisors going to do about it? We have so far only heard from Supervisor Rexroad–where do the four Supervisors who supported the program stand on this issue now that it has shown to be a problem in its current form?

—Doug Paul Davis reporting

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About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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48 thoughts on “County Needle Exchange Program Makes Mess of Parks”

  1. Anonymous

    DPD, this is yet another example of a lack of critical thinking and analysis to prevent problems before they arise on behalf of our public leaders. And, to make matters worse, it also shows a complete inability on behalf of these leaders to accept accountability, take full responsibility, and fix a problem when it arises. When you combine this with the recent bungling on behalf of the Court and the Sheriff concerning the arraignment of Topete, it just makes our county look like it’s run by the Keystone Cops. I think we need a good, old-fashioned house cleaning, starting at the top.

  2. Anonymous

    DPD, this is yet another example of a lack of critical thinking and analysis to prevent problems before they arise on behalf of our public leaders. And, to make matters worse, it also shows a complete inability on behalf of these leaders to accept accountability, take full responsibility, and fix a problem when it arises. When you combine this with the recent bungling on behalf of the Court and the Sheriff concerning the arraignment of Topete, it just makes our county look like it’s run by the Keystone Cops. I think we need a good, old-fashioned house cleaning, starting at the top.

  3. Anonymous

    DPD, this is yet another example of a lack of critical thinking and analysis to prevent problems before they arise on behalf of our public leaders. And, to make matters worse, it also shows a complete inability on behalf of these leaders to accept accountability, take full responsibility, and fix a problem when it arises. When you combine this with the recent bungling on behalf of the Court and the Sheriff concerning the arraignment of Topete, it just makes our county look like it’s run by the Keystone Cops. I think we need a good, old-fashioned house cleaning, starting at the top.

  4. Anonymous

    DPD, this is yet another example of a lack of critical thinking and analysis to prevent problems before they arise on behalf of our public leaders. And, to make matters worse, it also shows a complete inability on behalf of these leaders to accept accountability, take full responsibility, and fix a problem when it arises. When you combine this with the recent bungling on behalf of the Court and the Sheriff concerning the arraignment of Topete, it just makes our county look like it’s run by the Keystone Cops. I think we need a good, old-fashioned house cleaning, starting at the top.

  5. Oh Brother!

    Excellent article DPD!

    As my grandmother (now deceased) used to say – “Oh those commi-pinko liberals!” There is some truth to what she said, in that Socialists nations have tried this sort of experimental needle exchange or legalization of drugs program – and it resulted in the same phenomenon – needles and drug usage detritus in the parks, along with semi-comatose druggies laying around. It literally drove families from the parks and left the parks for the drug users and pushers. So if there has been a place where such a program has worked, please cite an example. What sounds “good in theory” does not always translate to “good in practice”.

    DPD, your point that coordination between the county and city should have been sought is a no-brainer and spot on. Boney’s response is silly, but typical. So often these sorts of social programs are not well thought out. Politically they sound wonderful, but when carried out are asinine. IMHO a needle exchange program carried out by the non-medical profession without oversight falls in the category of asinine and a sorry waste of the taxpayer’s scarce dollars.

  6. Oh Brother!

    Excellent article DPD!

    As my grandmother (now deceased) used to say – “Oh those commi-pinko liberals!” There is some truth to what she said, in that Socialists nations have tried this sort of experimental needle exchange or legalization of drugs program – and it resulted in the same phenomenon – needles and drug usage detritus in the parks, along with semi-comatose druggies laying around. It literally drove families from the parks and left the parks for the drug users and pushers. So if there has been a place where such a program has worked, please cite an example. What sounds “good in theory” does not always translate to “good in practice”.

    DPD, your point that coordination between the county and city should have been sought is a no-brainer and spot on. Boney’s response is silly, but typical. So often these sorts of social programs are not well thought out. Politically they sound wonderful, but when carried out are asinine. IMHO a needle exchange program carried out by the non-medical profession without oversight falls in the category of asinine and a sorry waste of the taxpayer’s scarce dollars.

  7. Oh Brother!

    Excellent article DPD!

    As my grandmother (now deceased) used to say – “Oh those commi-pinko liberals!” There is some truth to what she said, in that Socialists nations have tried this sort of experimental needle exchange or legalization of drugs program – and it resulted in the same phenomenon – needles and drug usage detritus in the parks, along with semi-comatose druggies laying around. It literally drove families from the parks and left the parks for the drug users and pushers. So if there has been a place where such a program has worked, please cite an example. What sounds “good in theory” does not always translate to “good in practice”.

    DPD, your point that coordination between the county and city should have been sought is a no-brainer and spot on. Boney’s response is silly, but typical. So often these sorts of social programs are not well thought out. Politically they sound wonderful, but when carried out are asinine. IMHO a needle exchange program carried out by the non-medical profession without oversight falls in the category of asinine and a sorry waste of the taxpayer’s scarce dollars.

  8. Oh Brother!

    Excellent article DPD!

    As my grandmother (now deceased) used to say – “Oh those commi-pinko liberals!” There is some truth to what she said, in that Socialists nations have tried this sort of experimental needle exchange or legalization of drugs program – and it resulted in the same phenomenon – needles and drug usage detritus in the parks, along with semi-comatose druggies laying around. It literally drove families from the parks and left the parks for the drug users and pushers. So if there has been a place where such a program has worked, please cite an example. What sounds “good in theory” does not always translate to “good in practice”.

    DPD, your point that coordination between the county and city should have been sought is a no-brainer and spot on. Boney’s response is silly, but typical. So often these sorts of social programs are not well thought out. Politically they sound wonderful, but when carried out are asinine. IMHO a needle exchange program carried out by the non-medical profession without oversight falls in the category of asinine and a sorry waste of the taxpayer’s scarce dollars.

  9. support exchange program

    The problem wasn’t the program, but how it was implemented. The Yolo County public health director should have looked at communities where the needle exchange program has been successful. In most communities the “exchange” happens at either a clinic or a pharmacy. At the location there is also information provided for people who wish to seek help and services for overcoming their addiction.

  10. support exchange program

    The problem wasn’t the program, but how it was implemented. The Yolo County public health director should have looked at communities where the needle exchange program has been successful. In most communities the “exchange” happens at either a clinic or a pharmacy. At the location there is also information provided for people who wish to seek help and services for overcoming their addiction.

  11. support exchange program

    The problem wasn’t the program, but how it was implemented. The Yolo County public health director should have looked at communities where the needle exchange program has been successful. In most communities the “exchange” happens at either a clinic or a pharmacy. At the location there is also information provided for people who wish to seek help and services for overcoming their addiction.

  12. support exchange program

    The problem wasn’t the program, but how it was implemented. The Yolo County public health director should have looked at communities where the needle exchange program has been successful. In most communities the “exchange” happens at either a clinic or a pharmacy. At the location there is also information provided for people who wish to seek help and services for overcoming their addiction.

  13. Mike Hart

    Any druggie that is coherent enough to realize that exchanging needles might keep them alive a bit longer can be given some condition. Condition one- stay the hell out of public parks! Needle exchanges should be done in police parking lot…

    Don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t in Davis… I was at Farmer’s Market this Wednesday and decided to use the public restroom on the north end of the park. I walked in on a drug-deal in progress. One twenty-something gentleman of African-American descent was handing a small plastic bag of white rocks to a person of pale but questionable heritage holding a long skateboard and holding $20 (struck me as steep and I was going to suggest that he haggle…). They both seemed to be distraught that I walked in on their transaction and bolted. Both of them stank horribly.

    When I informed the neighborhood police volunteer he told me that they were well aware of the problem and that this goes on all the time. In Davis. During Farmer’s Market.

    I don’t think it is productive to try and save these people from themselves, they seem perfectly willing to weed themselves out of gene pool so kudos to them for it… I just don’t want them to do it in public spaces.

  14. Mike Hart

    Any druggie that is coherent enough to realize that exchanging needles might keep them alive a bit longer can be given some condition. Condition one- stay the hell out of public parks! Needle exchanges should be done in police parking lot…

    Don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t in Davis… I was at Farmer’s Market this Wednesday and decided to use the public restroom on the north end of the park. I walked in on a drug-deal in progress. One twenty-something gentleman of African-American descent was handing a small plastic bag of white rocks to a person of pale but questionable heritage holding a long skateboard and holding $20 (struck me as steep and I was going to suggest that he haggle…). They both seemed to be distraught that I walked in on their transaction and bolted. Both of them stank horribly.

    When I informed the neighborhood police volunteer he told me that they were well aware of the problem and that this goes on all the time. In Davis. During Farmer’s Market.

    I don’t think it is productive to try and save these people from themselves, they seem perfectly willing to weed themselves out of gene pool so kudos to them for it… I just don’t want them to do it in public spaces.

  15. Mike Hart

    Any druggie that is coherent enough to realize that exchanging needles might keep them alive a bit longer can be given some condition. Condition one- stay the hell out of public parks! Needle exchanges should be done in police parking lot…

    Don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t in Davis… I was at Farmer’s Market this Wednesday and decided to use the public restroom on the north end of the park. I walked in on a drug-deal in progress. One twenty-something gentleman of African-American descent was handing a small plastic bag of white rocks to a person of pale but questionable heritage holding a long skateboard and holding $20 (struck me as steep and I was going to suggest that he haggle…). They both seemed to be distraught that I walked in on their transaction and bolted. Both of them stank horribly.

    When I informed the neighborhood police volunteer he told me that they were well aware of the problem and that this goes on all the time. In Davis. During Farmer’s Market.

    I don’t think it is productive to try and save these people from themselves, they seem perfectly willing to weed themselves out of gene pool so kudos to them for it… I just don’t want them to do it in public spaces.

  16. Mike Hart

    Any druggie that is coherent enough to realize that exchanging needles might keep them alive a bit longer can be given some condition. Condition one- stay the hell out of public parks! Needle exchanges should be done in police parking lot…

    Don’t think that this kind of thing isn’t in Davis… I was at Farmer’s Market this Wednesday and decided to use the public restroom on the north end of the park. I walked in on a drug-deal in progress. One twenty-something gentleman of African-American descent was handing a small plastic bag of white rocks to a person of pale but questionable heritage holding a long skateboard and holding $20 (struck me as steep and I was going to suggest that he haggle…). They both seemed to be distraught that I walked in on their transaction and bolted. Both of them stank horribly.

    When I informed the neighborhood police volunteer he told me that they were well aware of the problem and that this goes on all the time. In Davis. During Farmer’s Market.

    I don’t think it is productive to try and save these people from themselves, they seem perfectly willing to weed themselves out of gene pool so kudos to them for it… I just don’t want them to do it in public spaces.

  17. Mike Hart

    I don’t know- why does it? The idea of drugs being sold in a Davis bathroom at Farmer’s Market didn’t seem to cause concern. But god help us if someone mentions “race”…

    Davis Police Blotter (liberal version) describing crime: “Be on lookout for a person suspected of robbing the bank who is wearing a red shirt. Their sex, age, height, color are considered discriminatory to mention”

  18. Mike Hart

    I don’t know- why does it? The idea of drugs being sold in a Davis bathroom at Farmer’s Market didn’t seem to cause concern. But god help us if someone mentions “race”…

    Davis Police Blotter (liberal version) describing crime: “Be on lookout for a person suspected of robbing the bank who is wearing a red shirt. Their sex, age, height, color are considered discriminatory to mention”

  19. Mike Hart

    I don’t know- why does it? The idea of drugs being sold in a Davis bathroom at Farmer’s Market didn’t seem to cause concern. But god help us if someone mentions “race”…

    Davis Police Blotter (liberal version) describing crime: “Be on lookout for a person suspected of robbing the bank who is wearing a red shirt. Their sex, age, height, color are considered discriminatory to mention”

  20. Mike Hart

    I don’t know- why does it? The idea of drugs being sold in a Davis bathroom at Farmer’s Market didn’t seem to cause concern. But god help us if someone mentions “race”…

    Davis Police Blotter (liberal version) describing crime: “Be on lookout for a person suspected of robbing the bank who is wearing a red shirt. Their sex, age, height, color are considered discriminatory to mention”

  21. Vincente

    But you are not a police officer trying to help the public or their fellow officers identify the perpetrators.

    Guess most of us are not surprised that drugs would be sold (god forbid) in Davis.

  22. Vincente

    But you are not a police officer trying to help the public or their fellow officers identify the perpetrators.

    Guess most of us are not surprised that drugs would be sold (god forbid) in Davis.

  23. Vincente

    But you are not a police officer trying to help the public or their fellow officers identify the perpetrators.

    Guess most of us are not surprised that drugs would be sold (god forbid) in Davis.

  24. Vincente

    But you are not a police officer trying to help the public or their fellow officers identify the perpetrators.

    Guess most of us are not surprised that drugs would be sold (god forbid) in Davis.

  25. Mike Hart

    you guys are hilarious… “questionable” as in “I don’t know” and this is what, the fourth comment now still focused on race when the real issue is that some dirt-bags doing drug deals in the park bathroom and how a needle exchange in parks is a terrible idea?

    If the point of these messages to express your concern about my lack of proper Davis-liberalspeak-decorum, get real… its not going to happen. Unlike some here, I am not burdened by a constant nagging guilt that I have abandoned my liberal ideals…

  26. Mike Hart

    you guys are hilarious… “questionable” as in “I don’t know” and this is what, the fourth comment now still focused on race when the real issue is that some dirt-bags doing drug deals in the park bathroom and how a needle exchange in parks is a terrible idea?

    If the point of these messages to express your concern about my lack of proper Davis-liberalspeak-decorum, get real… its not going to happen. Unlike some here, I am not burdened by a constant nagging guilt that I have abandoned my liberal ideals…

  27. Mike Hart

    you guys are hilarious… “questionable” as in “I don’t know” and this is what, the fourth comment now still focused on race when the real issue is that some dirt-bags doing drug deals in the park bathroom and how a needle exchange in parks is a terrible idea?

    If the point of these messages to express your concern about my lack of proper Davis-liberalspeak-decorum, get real… its not going to happen. Unlike some here, I am not burdened by a constant nagging guilt that I have abandoned my liberal ideals…

  28. Mike Hart

    you guys are hilarious… “questionable” as in “I don’t know” and this is what, the fourth comment now still focused on race when the real issue is that some dirt-bags doing drug deals in the park bathroom and how a needle exchange in parks is a terrible idea?

    If the point of these messages to express your concern about my lack of proper Davis-liberalspeak-decorum, get real… its not going to happen. Unlike some here, I am not burdened by a constant nagging guilt that I have abandoned my liberal ideals…

  29. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, I’ve come to learn that Central Park, near the public restrooms on the north side of the park, is a druggie hangout. (This is probably not news to younger people who are so often attuned to these things.) My commission meets on Monday nights at the Hattie Webber Museum. Oftentimes, when leaving around 10 pm or later, it’s rather obvious what’s going on in that area…. I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.

  30. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, I’ve come to learn that Central Park, near the public restrooms on the north side of the park, is a druggie hangout. (This is probably not news to younger people who are so often attuned to these things.) My commission meets on Monday nights at the Hattie Webber Museum. Oftentimes, when leaving around 10 pm or later, it’s rather obvious what’s going on in that area…. I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.

  31. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, I’ve come to learn that Central Park, near the public restrooms on the north side of the park, is a druggie hangout. (This is probably not news to younger people who are so often attuned to these things.) My commission meets on Monday nights at the Hattie Webber Museum. Oftentimes, when leaving around 10 pm or later, it’s rather obvious what’s going on in that area…. I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.

  32. Rich Rifkin

    FWIW, I’ve come to learn that Central Park, near the public restrooms on the north side of the park, is a druggie hangout. (This is probably not news to younger people who are so often attuned to these things.) My commission meets on Monday nights at the Hattie Webber Museum. Oftentimes, when leaving around 10 pm or later, it’s rather obvious what’s going on in that area…. I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.

  33. Geeeeeeze

    “I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.”

    It should be if it isn’t. Drug trafficing usually brings with it other crime, like burglary and assault.

  34. Geeeeeeze

    “I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.”

    It should be if it isn’t. Drug trafficing usually brings with it other crime, like burglary and assault.

  35. Geeeeeeze

    “I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.”

    It should be if it isn’t. Drug trafficing usually brings with it other crime, like burglary and assault.

  36. Geeeeeeze

    “I’m sure the Davis police know about it, but unless it causes other problems, I doubt the drug use there is a priority.”

    It should be if it isn’t. Drug trafficing usually brings with it other crime, like burglary and assault.

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