The city gives itself an hour to respond to reports of needles in parks. We put that to the test. | KOB 4

The city gives itself an hour to respond to reports of needles in parks. We put that to the test.

Megan Abundis
October 11, 2018 07:02 PM

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Needles, trash and that's just the start of it.


"Picking up hypodermic needles, used condoms in the parking lot area," said Ben Sturge, a resident who lives near Highland Park.

It's a complaint we hear about from all across Albuquerque—city parks littered with and dirty and otherwise dangerous items. The city says residents should file a report with 311 to get it cleaned up, with a goal to dispose of the trash within an hour.

Just two years ago, the city spent $740,000 to renovate the park. But residents in the area say it's since been overrun, again, by the homeless and drug users.

"New lighting, everything seemed great, the graffiti took a dive," Sturge said. "But in the past six months, it's just seeped back in. A lot of new young families in the neighborhood don't want to come to the playground."

That's because they've found needles, used condoms, alcohol bottles and a whole lot of trash.

Sturge, who lives down the street, said he takes it upon himself to clean up the dirty needles. So far, he says he's personally found more than two dozen in the park.

"That's when I found one of the hypodermic needles on the slide," Sturge said. "I have found them in the mulch padding with no caps. You got little kids with hypodermic needles with no cap."

Officials with the Parks and Recreation Department says they go to the park every week looking for needles.

The city says to report needles, residents need to use the OneABQ app. With their self-imposed goal of cleaning the park up within an hour in mind, we decided to put that response time to the test.

When KOB arrived at Highland Park Thursday, two needles were found in the playground and parking lot area. Two separate reports were made using the app, which directs residents to submit pictures and a description of where the needle was.

The Parks and Recreation Department says city departments respond to reports filed on the app and switch off every month.  

After eight hours Thursday, one needle was still in the same spot we found it. It's unclear if the other needle was picked up by the city or a resident, because officials did not respond to our requests for comment.

Residents, meanwhile, say they are torn between wanting their kids to play in the park or risk them picking up dirty needles.

"I beg the police to do very regular routine patrols, on foot preferably," Sturge said.

If you are going to pick dirty needles up, the city says you need gloves, tongs and a biohazard box.

The city says they are also working on getting funding to add a sharps box at Highland Park where needles can be deposited.


Megan Abundis

Copyright 2018 KOB-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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