No charges to be filed following investigation into Charleston needle exchange

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 10:36 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- No charges will be filed against a harm reduction program for its needle distribution.

After an investigation and confirming with county prosecutors and the city attorney, the Charleston Police Department determined that no laws were broken during the needle distribution process.

In October of 2020, the Charleston police received a complaint about the Solutions Oriented Addiction Response (SOAR) program distributing needles without all licenses required by state law or approval from the Chief of Police.

According to CPD, the Department of Health and Human Resources confirmed there are no licenses from the State of West Virginia required to operate a needle distribution program, therefore “the Charleston Ordinance which requires all necessary license for the state does not apply.”

Also, officials say state law only “contemplate regulation on for profit entities.”

Chief of Police, Tyke Hunt wrote that he will be working with the city attorney to revise the city ordinance to properly address the issue.

“The Charleston Police Department will continue to uphold our laws and support the constitution. In doing so, I cannot let a loose interpretation of terms bear any semblance of an abuse of authority. The Charleston Police Department’s involvement in this medical issue is not to dissuade harm reduction programs, but rather to ensure the paramount issue of public safety is not jeopardized. The biohazard created by needle litter, to any degree, is of great concern and it puts Charleston residents and the City of Charleston employees at risk. This unnecessary threat to society creates months of lifestyle changes and well being uncertainty when a needle stick occurs. Needle distribution is an issue that requires immediate attention.”

Chief of Police Tyke Hunt

For our previous coverage click here.

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