August 06, 2014 - While on the way back from checking local waterways for any signs of pollution from area construction, The Clarkston News discovered a hypodermic needle in the alley behind the office.
Det. Kimberly Potts disposes of the needle. Photo by Andrea Beadoin (click for larger version)
Detective Kimberly Potts, responding to the scene, was happy to dispose of it.
"You just never know if a child would have walked through the alley and picked it up, took the cap off and maybe stuck themselves with it," Potts said.
The deputy used rubber gloves to pick up the needle and seal it in a container marked "biohazard," for later disposal as medical waste.
Potts said she regularly deals with the possibility of needles on suspects when they are patted down.
"That is very scary," she said. "We always ask do you have anything on you that can hurt me. If an officer gets stuck with a needle it is a long and scary process of getting tested for diseases."
When asked if she could tell what the found needle had been used for, she said needles are used legally to treat diabetes, but the way it was discarded in an alley is suspicious.
Diabetics are taught to properly dispose of their needles, and if I had to guess, I would say this is more likely from drug use."
Potts said heroin use does not appear to be a known problem in the area.
"I don't see heroin in Clarkston Schools," said Potts, who is a liaison officer at Clarkston Community Schools.
Even though it may not be considered a huge problem in Clarkston, the area does see overdoses. Just this week in a police report, a local resident reportedly died of a heroin overdose.
Lt. Brent Miles, commander of the Oakland County Sheriff's Narcotics Enforcement Team, said he has seen prescription drug abuse rise since he joined the team in 1994.
According to the Center's for Disease Control, deaths from opiate abuse have exploded since 1999, and overdose rates now surpass annual deaths caused by auto accidents. The Drug Enforcement Agency has labeled the problem an epidemic.
Miles said prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in large cities and small towns alike, as those same prescription drug abusers turn to heroin as a cheaper replacement to pills.
Potts said she tells students not to even try a drug like heroin because it is so terrible.
"Once someone does heroin they will continue to chase the high they get at first, but they cannot get it," she said adding that drug abuse often leads to trouble with the law or death.
Earlier this year, Potts was honored by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder for her work with area children and CARE House, a place children go when allegations of child abuse are being investigated.
She was presented a Certificate of Excellence by CARE House of Oakland County, Jan. 29.
Staff writer covering Independence Township and Clarkston area.