Drug paraphernalia found at park near playground

Posted at: 10/25/2013 10:33 PM
By: Caleb James, KOB Eyewitness News 4

On Friday, our 4 On Your Side team found more glaring evidence of needle drug use at a second downtown park.

This time, only feet from a middle school yard.

What KOB Eyewitness News 4 reporter Caleb James found in Washington Middle School Park was shocking: needle safety caps, and a plunger.

Neighbors say they fear -- where there's smoke, there's fire -- only a matter of time before someone else gets hurt.

"Something has to happen, something has to happen," said Michelle Arnold.

This is Arnold's neighborhood.

"I stopped coming to the park because I felt like I was the only one trying to make change and do something," she said.

Walks in the park have become a side-step over and between broken glass, and worse, drug paraphernalia.

"You'll see them all packed up in here," Arnold said, pointing toward the edge of the park near the Washington Middle School yard where she says she sees drug users often congregate.

She says even after 10 p.m. -- when the park closes -- there are groups of drifters staked out. Arnold can only assume drug use goes down, because of the evidence she finds -- left behind, right next to a playground.

"Get a good enough breeze on the wind and all of this blows in there," she said, pointing to a playground.

After only a couple of minutes combing Washington Middle School Park with plastic gloves, we found needle plungers and caps, all a few feet from the playground.

About a hundred feet in the other direction is the Washington Middle School yard.

Everyday around 3 p.m., kids pour out of the school, eager to get home.

"They all flood the park area and go off their separate ways," said Arnold.

That's why Arnold can't stay quiet about what she sees.

"There's lots of kids who come here, families bring their kids here and play in the play area," she said.

4 On Your Side called Albuquerque Parks and Recreation, and asked when the department would be able to respond to the park. A maintenance worker arrived in about 20 minutes.

We asked the worker if he had a container to dispose of the caps and plunger.

He said his sharps container was broken. He left and came back a short time later with a new one.

"I purchased this one, I went to Walgreens and I purchased it," he said.

We're told a supervisior showed up shortly after, with another container, and helped that worker comb the park.

Department spokesman Paul Hyso told us they didn't find anything besides what we found.

After 4 On Your Side learned of an Albuquerque man Ben Adams stepping on a used needle in Robinson park, and finding the drug paraphernalia at Washington Middle School, we asked if Parks and Rec might consider a joint APD task force. Hyso says it's a strong possibility.

Adams now faces a year of medical tests to clear him of HIV.

The city responded with crews to comb the park for more needles.

If you see a needle -- call 3-1-1 right away. Do not touch the needle yourself.