Boston City Council to address littered needles at park after detective pricked

Boston – Boston City Council is set to address the on-going issue of littered needles at a Roxbury park days after a detective was pricked there.

The Suffolk County Detective accidentally stepped on a needle during a volunteer clean-up of Clifford Park on Saturday.

Boston City Councilor Erin Murphy, who organized Saturday’s cleanup, has filed for a hearing to be taken up on the topic during this Wednesday’s meeting.

Boston 25 News has been reporting on the dangerous problem of discarded needles at Clifford Park for years now.

The park sits about a half mile away from Mass Ave and Melnea Cass, where a large crowd of people congregate and openly use drugs.

“I’m having a small heart attack watching these kids play because I know what could be in the grass,” said neighbor Marla Smith.

Smith picked up nine needles within ten minutes of arriving at Clifford Park on Sunday night.

“It’s heartbreaking,” she said. “My kids grew up playing in this park, and I never felt unsafe when they were here.”

Community activist and Boston Bengals football coach Domingos DaRosa said hundreds of littered needles are found at Clifford Park on a weekly basis.

“For the five you pick up, there’s ten more right behind it,” explained DaRosa. “A lot of kids who use this park don’t know the underlying issue.”

The detective who was pricked by the needle was taken to the hospital for evaluation and is expected to undergo testing and treatment.

A city of Boston spokesperson released the following statement to Boston 25 News:

“This recent incident highlights the urgency of addressing the crisis in this area through equity-focused, public health-led policies that address the needs of people experiencing homelessness, substance use disorders, and behavioral health issues. Each person within this population has unique needs and requires resources from a continuum of services, such as health care, behavioral health care, substance use disorder treatment, harm reduction, and more. The City of Boston is constantly working to connect them with the appropriate services to support their health and wellbeing. The City is also trying to make sure that we are providing a safe space that the neighborhood can enjoy.”

Background on Clifford Park, provided by City of Boston:

-Starting on August 29th, the City will enhance cleanup efforts seven days a week through a partnership with the Newmarket BID to ensure that the park is a safe and pleasant space for all to enjoy.

-The Recovery Services Outreach Team canvases the neighborhood every morning and afternoon starting and prioritizing Clifford Park and area schools by 6:30 AM, as well as South End, Newmarket, and Roxbury. People are offered transport, access to treatment, and access to shelter.

-The City’s Mobile Sharps Team responds to 311 calls and requests 7 days/wk and also performs proactive clean ups in certain areas. Efforts are continuously monitored and adjusted to respond to target areas of particular need. They sweep the park twice a day between 7AM and 7PM.

-Parks and Recreation maintenance staff works hard to remove any trash and debris left in parks as soon as possible.

-Boston Police monitors to ensure public safety in the area.

Boston City Councilor had this to say regarding the condition of the beloved park:

“The neighbors who live near Clifford Park have been speaking up for some time now that their park is not safe or clean enough for the children to play freely in it. It should be bustling with neighbors, kids and sports teams, but most days it sits empty. The safety of visitors is in jeopardy because there are needles, human waste, and other dangerous objects in the park. The proximity of Clifford Park to the crisis at Mass and Cass is evident by the frequency of people gathering to use drugs and also sleeping in the park overnight. I organized a clean up on Saturday morning to do my part, but more importantly to raise awareness for the neighbors who feel that their voices are not being heard by the City. While we were cleaning a police officer was stabbed in the foot with a used needle and needed to go to the hospital. This was a strong reminder to all of us that the neighbors face this extreme danger every time they come into the park to play. As a mother, I can understand why many parents don’t let their kids play here.

I want to thank the volunteers who joined me, the Parks Department, Public Works, Office of Civic Organizing, and neighbors like Domingo DaRosa who helped us. We need to continue to work together so we can all be part of the solution.“