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Spotlight on Orange

Posted on: August 6, 2018

City Council Addresses Needle Exchange Program

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The Orange City Council held a special meeting this morning to address important health and safety issues arising from the approval by the State of California Department of Health of an application by a non-profit organization to provide needle exchange services in several Orange County cities, including Orange.

In a unanimous 5-0 vote, the Orange City Council authorized the City Attorney to initiate litigation against the State and the non-profit Orange County Needle Exchange Program (OCNEP) to halt the organization’s activities in Orange. The Council believed this action was necessary to protect the health and safety of Orange residents, businesses, and visitors.

OCNEP previously provided needle exchange services in the City of Santa Ana, which did not renew their permit earlier this year after significant health and safety issues were brought to their attention. Despite this, the State approved OCNEP’s new application, even with strong opposition from the City of Orange and local law enforcement officials.

We will provide you with future updates as the situation develops.

Information previously posted on August 2, 2018

The City of Orange has been informed that the California Department of Public Health has approved an application to provide mobile needle exchange services in several cities- including here in Orange- by a non-profit organization called the Orange County Needle Exchange Program (OCNEP.)  This action was taken despite objections from residents, and the direct opposition from the municipal governments of all 4 cities chosen for this program by the OCNEP.

Several letters opposing the application were sent to the State by cities that were named in OCNEP’s application to the State.  Orange Police Chief Tom Kisela, writing on behalf of the City of Orange, voiced our opposition in a strongly worded letter.  Chief Kisela respectfully reminded the State Department of Health that the City of Santa Ana revoked the permit for OCNEP’s local needle exchange program after used needles were discovered littering their Civic Center,  becoming a significant threat to public health.  He also expressed grave concerns about the location(s) they selected, and OCNEP’s specific proposed operations in the City of Orange.  Despite this, OCNEP received their approval from the State.

The City of Orange is working with the county and the other cities effected by the Department of Public Health’s decision, Costa Mesa, Santa Ana, and Anaheim, in discussing options going forward to ensure the safety of our residents, businesses, and visitors.  

It is our understanding that OCNEP is not planning to begin the exchange program until September.  At which time, the Orange Police Department will be monitoring the exchange activities to ensure they do not pose a risk to our community.

Citizens wishing to contact the Department of Public Health regarding the needle exchange program may call Dr. Karen Smith, Director and State Public Health Officer at (916) 558-1784.

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