Whistleblower finds syringes and needles on Fargo bike path

FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A man riding along a Fargo bike path found needles on the ground over the weekend. He says police told him even carrying them to the trash could be a liability; so he contacted our Whistleblower hotline, wanting to know what to do with them.

The man, asking to remain anonymous, showed us pictures of needles along the bike path across from City Hall—and caps and plungers near the entrance by 4th Avenue North.

We showed Robyn Litke Sall, Substance Abuse Prevention Coordinator with Fargo Cass Public Health, the pictures. She says the common insulin syringes are often used for illegal drug use.

"It could have been someone with diabetes,” she said. “It could have been someone who injects an illicit drug."

The Whistleblower says he was told even just carrying the needles to the trash was a liability on his end, and he wanted to know what to do with them.

"North Dakota Century Code is pretty clear that if you have drug paraphernalia such as a syringe and if there's any residue in or on that syringe, you could be guilty of a felony, a drug paraphernalia charge," Litke Sall said.

Century Code 19-03.4-03 says, “A person may not use or possess with the intent to use drug paraphernalia…”

Litke Sall says a citizen trying to trash needles could make the argument in court that he or she didn't have any "intent" to use.

Not only is it a potential legal situation, Litke Sall says, it’s also a health issue.

"It really is a conundrum,” she said, “because there are a bunch of different issues that you're dealing with here...we certainly don't advocate or recommend that citizens go out and pick up, you know, needles that have been used."

But she says if you are worried about your kids or pets, you should use puncture-resistant gloves to pick the needles up. If you don’t have those, you should at least use leather work gloves—not latex or rubber. And in addition to gloves, you should also use tongs to pick the needles up.

Litke Sall suggests disposing them in a heavy duty container—like a laundry detergent bottle.

Needles can be disposed in one of two "sharps kiosks" in town. One is located on the northeast corner of the Fargo Cass Public Health building, at 25th Street and 13th Avenue. The other is at the Harm Reduction Center, at 510 5th Street North.

Litke Sall says there’s no local service to remove needles yet.

"I'm hoping that the next time we visit about this,” she said, “I'll be able to say, ‘yes, call this person at this number at this time, and we'll get it taken care of.’"

But she says her department is working right now to change that in the near future.

For more information on needle disposal, head here:

https://www.fda.gov/media/87634/download