The Board of El Paso County Commissioners has adopted a formal Resolution opposing the creation of an El Paso County syringe exchange program.
The Commissioners unanimously approved the Resolution on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017, telling the El Paso County Board of Health, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Colorado lawmakers that the board believes establishing such a program is not in the best interest of citizens.
The Resolution comes days before the El Paso County Board of Health is expected to discuss on Monday, Dec. 4, 2017, whether to allow a syringe exchange program in the County. In October 2013, the Board of Health had voted against creating such a program.
Commissioner Peggy Littleton read the Resolution into the record, “Better enforcement, outreach and education, intervention and treatment, and other preventative measures are needed to stop the alarming increase in drug related crimes, accidents and deaths. Research concludes that stand alone needle exchange programs are ineffective without referrals to drug treatment programs.”
“We do have passion associated with this in our community,” Commissioner Stan VanderWerf said. “We have a whole lot more that we can do with regard to intervention, counseling and prevention. We need to have a dialogue about this before we do a public needle exchange.”
Commissioners Longinos Gonzalez and Peggy Littleton serve on the current nine-person Board of Health.
“While those in favor of syringe exchange programs say that they help reduce the spread of disease, the data I’ve seen doesn’t back up that claim,” Gonzalez said.
During the public comment portion of Thursday’s hearing, three people spoke out against the Resolution with one supporting the Commissioners’ decision.
The El Paso County Board of Health’s public meeting on Monday is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. at the Citizen’s Service Center, 1675 W. Garden of the Gods Road in the first floor Assessor’s class room.