Hamblen County Sheriff's Office says heroin use up, used needles

Hamblen County Sheriff's Office says heroin use up, used needles found daily

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For one Morristown woman, the issue hit too close to home after she found a handful of used needles dumped right across the street from where she lives. (source: Shawna Ramsey) For one Morristown woman, the issue hit too close to home after she found a handful of used needles dumped right across the street from where she lives. (source: Shawna Ramsey)
Shawna Ramsey says a new neighbor moved in and cleaned out the old home, leaving junk sitting outside for weeks. Ramsey worries more dangerous drug-related items are inside the trash bags. Shawna Ramsey says a new neighbor moved in and cleaned out the old home, leaving junk sitting outside for weeks. Ramsey worries more dangerous drug-related items are inside the trash bags.
"I couldn't believe the fact that someone would just dump that on the side of a street in a neighborhood where children play and children ride their bikes," Shawna Ramsey said. "I couldn't believe the fact that someone would just dump that on the side of a street in a neighborhood where children play and children ride their bikes," Shawna Ramsey said.
By SHELBY MILLER
6 News Reporter

MORRISTOWN (WATE) - Heroin has become a growing and dangerous problem in Hamblen County, and it's an issue officers say they find daily evidence of along county roads and highways.

The sheriff's office says they're not just concerned about the drug use, but about the threats used needles bring to innocent people in the area.

For one Morristown woman, the issue hit too close to home after she found a handful of used needles dumped right across the street from where she lives. Shawna Ramsey says a new neighbor moved in and cleaned out the old home, leaving junk sitting outside for weeks. Ramsey worries more dangerous drug-related items are inside the trash bags.

"I couldn't believe the fact that someone would just dump that on the side of a street in a neighborhood where children play and children ride their bikes," she said.

While Ramsey's discovery is shocking, sadly officers say it isn't uncommon in Hamblen County. During routine trash pickups, officers and inmates find about two to 15 used needles daily.

"When an inmate signals me that there's a needle, I'll come over here and get my gloves and I'll go get it and I'll put it in here," said Dustan Fowler, who oversees litter collection for the Hamblen County Sheriff's Office.

Officers say they find used needles anywhere and every where, from parking lots to back roads and main highways.

Even for officers, dangers come when dealing with the drug cleanup. In recent years, several officers have been stabbed. Syringes can hold more than just heroin. Some carry HIV along with other deadly diseases.

"You don't know what kind of drug was in there. You don't know what kind of infectious diseases there also are from the blood that was in that syringe," said Carrie McCann, the criminal and civil warrants officer at the Hamblen County Sheriff's Office.

Officers say they've been cracking down on pill mills, but, as a result, they think heroin use will only get worse in Hamblen County.

If you come across used needles or drug paraphernalia, the sheriff's office says to put it in a sealed plastic container, like an old plastic bottle, and then contact your local health department to safely dispose of it.

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