Law Enforcement Supports Harm Reduction


"I support syringe exchange programs as a common sense tactic to address the issue of drug use in our communities. It's clear to me that these programs do not encourage drug use and that they can work in conjunction with the continuing enforcement of drug


Chief Harold Medlock, Fayetteville Police Department


“I’m in favor of syringe exchange programs to reduce the number of HIV and hepatitis C cases in the community. This is a public health issue. These programs would help the citizens of our state [who struggle with addiction] and protect others from injuries with dirty needles.”

Chief Marty Sumner, High Point Police Department


“Anyone who supports naloxone as a tool to save lives should support syringe exchange programs as well. They both give people a second chance. I would support having a syringe exchange program in my county, especially if people get treatment information."

Sheri Doug Doughtie, Dare County Sheriff’s Office


“Over the past few years, we have seen a tragic surge in deaths due to opioid overdose. Along with the escalation of injectable drugs comes the increased opportunity for needle sticks. With preventative measures such as improving syringe access, we are protecting the health and safety of law enforcement officers. Of course, I support any measures to keep our officers safe."

Sheri Neil Elks, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office


“I used to be an officer in a city in Connecticut that ran an active, successful syringe exchange program. I saw first hand that the program reduced the number of dirty syringes in circulation and the number of accidental needle-sticks suffered by first responders. Syringe exchange programs are a good way for those dealing with addiction to avoid diseases and to get information on treatment options.”

Chief John Cueto, Town of Duck Police Department


“Law enforcement has been at the front lines of the drug problem and has witnessed the devastating effects of drug use and abuse. We are currently seeing more and more people use heroin, more people inject prescription drugs, and more people get sick from diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. Although the enforcement of drug laws is and always will be an integral part of police work, we also realize that we will not solely arrest our way out of this problem. I support syringe exchange programs because they are shown to lower the rates of disease and help connect drug users to the treatment they need to combat this epidemic."

Chief Bill Hollingsed, Waynesville Police Department


“I would support syringe exchange programs that provide treatment information to those participating. I can see the advantages of a program that reduces disease transmission passed from people sharing dirty needles and also cuts down on the number of people and first responders accidentally stuck with infected needles."

Chief Joseph Barone, Statesville Police Department


"I am in favor of syringe exchange programs and see no downside or negative consequences connected to these programs. By providing clean needles, a syringe exchange program would increase officer safety and benefit communities that have individuals working through problems that pertain to an addiction".

Chief Barry Rountree, Winston Salem Police Department


“I support changing NC law to allow syringe exchange programs. Law Enforcement is about saving lives and making a difference: syringe exchange programs do both. The benefits of such programs exceed the harm. They reduce the spread of disease, unnecessary discarding of used needles, and the sharing of needles. It also provides an opportunity to speak with drug users about life changing alternatives.”

Chief Joe Ramey, Gaston County Police Department


"As an advocate for public safety and rehabilitation, I see syringe exchange programs as an exciting opportunity to reach out to drug users with education that could increase the chances of them getting help, including rehabilitation."

Sheriff Greg Christopher, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office


"I never envisioned myself supporting a syringe exchange program, but I now understand that ultimately it comes down to public safety and public health. I certainly now have a very different opinion of syringe exchange programs."

Sheriff John Ingram, Brunswick County Sheriffs Office


“From a health standpoint, I am all for getting syringes to people who need them. I don’t see much of a down side. Some might say that these programs encourage drug use, but I think that people who say that simply don’t understand the power and pull of opiates.”

Chief Tom Bashore, Nashville Police Department


As the opioid drug problem worsens, we need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to solutions. Syringe exchange programs would not only address the HIV and hepatitis C epidemic, but also provide wraparound services to address the drug problem at

its roots.

Chief Brad Shirley, Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department


"Syringe exchange programs make good sense. I support efforts to prevent young people and children from suffering accidental sticks and developing HIV or hepatitis C. I also like that these programs would offer access to treatment."

Chief Chris Hunt, Bladenboro Police Department


“I can’t see how anyone could be against syringe exchange programs. Syringes are a public safety issue and exchange programs would cut down on the number of cases of HIV and hepatitis C. They would also reduce first responder’s exposure to needle-stick injury and

connect subjects to treatment resources during contact with the exchange.”

Chief Kevin Brinkley, Nags Head Police Department


“I fully support the syringe exchange program. The program would improve officer safety and improve safety for our children. This program would eliminate the danger of discarded syringes in our public parks and other places that our citizens frequent.”

Chief Mike James, Leland Police Department


“I would support syringe exchange programs that provide treatment information to those participating. I can see the advantages of a program that reduces disease transmission passed from people sharing dirty needles and also cuts down on the number of people and first responders accidentally stuck with infected needles.

Chief Vance Haskett, Manteo Police Department


Syringe exchange programs make a lot of sense. I’m especially supportive of connecting people to drug treatment through these programs. I wish we had a syringe exchange here in Lenoir.

Chief Scott Brown, Lenoir Police Department


“Syringe Decriminalization takes dirty needles off the streets by allowing drug users and diabetics to dispose of syringes legally and therefore increases the safety of our police officers. Syringe Decriminalization saves money and lives, protects law enforcement from needlesticks, and increases public safety. Scientific research strongly supports this policy, as do many in law enforcement. Now is the time to lift legal barriers to decriminalizing syringes.”

Bob Scott, former Captain with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office


“Getting stuck by a needle was one of the scariest moments of my career…I believe a combination of harm reduction programs and syringe decriminalization will make a vast difference in the lives of law enforcement officers. I think officers need to know how to safely handle paraphernalia and needles. They need to know when to wear gloves and when to take extra precautions.” – Jen “Crash” Earls, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.


“The first law of law enforcement is to come home safe at the end of the day.”

Captain Sonny Leeper, Police Captain. Albuquerque Police Department


“One Needlestick to any North Carolina Officer is one too many. Law Enforcement and the communities they serve need to rise up to demand support for syringe decriminalization, which can reduce needlesticks to Law Enforcement by 66%.”
Robert Childs, NCHRC Executive Director, Concord, NC, Police Department Training, December 2011


“Drug addiction is a serious problem, but I believe in helping people. Harm reduction is a win-win situation because not only do these programs help protect officers from needlesticks, they also create an opportunity for dialogue that can lead to rehabilitation for drug users. It’s important for officers to see themselves as part of creating solutions to community issues, and not just booking crimes.”

 - Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D.A. Jackson officer in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department for 18 years.


“I’ve been stuck by needles and cut by broken crack pipes and razors while on duty. We had to search people so quickly, it was easy to touch something dangerous. If one of us got stuck, we might report it to a superior officer so he could write an exposure report, or we might not. I never sought treatment for needlesticks because we were supposed to be tough guys, you know. We’d get cut and move on.”

– Jen “Crash” Earls, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.


“One of the main components of a law enforcement officer’s job is to conduct searches. We search people, homes, vehicles, and storage compartments; we stick our hands in places most people wouldn’t think to touch, and in every search we are at risk for needle-sticks and contracting infectious diseases. I support harm reduction programs because I’ll advocate for anything that protects my life and the lives of my fellow officers.”

-Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D.A. Jackson has served in law enforcement for over 26 years, 18 in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, and she supports harm reduction.


“Syringe decriminalization is good in that they help reduce risks for police officers when they go out on calls. I personally do not believe that syringe decriminalization increase drug use but make officers safer. This would also be an important health improvement for our communities, because syringe decriminalization is proven to decrease HIV and viral hepatitis B & C .”

- Cynthia Sullivan, Victim Assistance Coordinator, Police Department, Winston-Salem, N.C., January 2012


“Several years ago we had an outbreak of hepatitis from sharing syringes. Hepatitis C costs over $100,000 to treat and over $400,000 if it requires a liver transplant, thus it was a great expense to the state and the taxpayers of Macon County. Syringe Decriminalization could of prevented these costs by providing injection drug users syringe access, encouraged them to safely dispose of their dirty needles off the streets and increase the safety of our police officers.”

- Bob Scott, former Captain with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.


“Officers in areas with harm reduction programs are safer because even if they accidently get stuck by a needle during searches, that needle is less likely to be infected with a disease. I get it. Unfortunately many cops have tunnel vision. They think only of stopping illegal activity, not about how the illegality of something might affect public health.”

 – Jeff Riorden, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.


“Based upon the literature that’s been presented to me, Syringe Decriminalization would not appear to increase crime and/or drug abuse, but rather greatly enhance officer and public safety.”

- Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D. A. Jackson, Background Investigator, Guildford County Sheriff’s Office, Greensboro, N.C., March 2011