WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (WKYT) - For 13 years, Deputy Chief Jason Caddell has been patrolling the streets of Williamsburg. He's seen just about everything, but lately something new is popping up and leaving a prickly problem for the city.
"We're finding them everywhere," Caddell said. Caddell is talking about used syringes. We went on a ride-along with him to see for ourselves how bad the problem is for Williamsburg. He took us to the cemetary, a popular spot, he says, for people to dump needles.
"We found needles in this area probably 10 or 15 times," Caddell said. "Probably 200 needles just discarded on the side of the road in plastic bags like Walmart bags."
Chief Wayne Bird carefully showed us the 200 needles gathered in the cemetery. "It's a huge safety concern for my officers and it's become a public health concern," Bird said.
Chief Bird says in seven out of ten traffic stops his department makes these days, needles are in the cars. "Needles are something we never saw seven, eight years ago. But now, they're everywhere."
Bird says they find them in cars, and on the side of the road. "When they get done they'll just throw the syringe out the window."
"This scares me more than going in a house when I don't know what's in there," Caddell said as he picked up a used syringe found on a sidewalk in a populated Williamsburg neighborhood.
Timothy Chappell lives just down the road from where the latest needle was found. He has an eight year-old son.
"We don't hardly let him out by himself and that's why," Chappell said.
Chappell has only lived here for four months, but he's found piles of needles in his yard multiple times.
It's a sticky problem for police. Not only is there fear of the public, or the officers themselves, getting stuck with a needle with possible disease, but the penalty, Chief Bird says, doesn't fit the threat to his men or his community.
He says if a needle is found in a car, the driver can be charged with possession of drug paraphernalia. However, he says most of the time, the misdemeanor is dismissed in court. "There's really no penalty for being caught with a needle," Bird said.
Little help for police trying to clean up the latest danger in their fight against drugs.
On Wednesday, the Williamsburg Police Department issued a request, asking locals to not drop off any type of needles to the Williamsburg City Hall, or the Williamsburg Police Department.
The department has specialized equipment to collect the needles to properly dispose of them.
Officers say if you see a needle along a road or in your yard, do not attempt to pick it up. The needles can carry diseases or viruses. They ask everyone to please call the police department for assistance using their non-emergency dispatch number 606-549-6038 or 606-549-6017.