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Tippecanoe County Granted 'Health Emergency' Status On Path To Needle Exchange

Gretchen Frazee

Tippecanoe County has become Indiana’s ninth with a declared public health emergency – an intermediate step in establishing a needle exchange in the county.

State Health Commissioner Jerome Adams Thursday approved the request from Tippecanoe County Health Officer Jeremy Adler, based primarily on increased numbers of hepatitis C cases linked to IV drug use.

The city of Lafayette has battled a spike in major crimes in the past several years, and elected officials including Mayor Tony Roswarski  have attributed the additional crime to a corresponding drug use epidemic.

However, Roswarski and Lafayette Police Chief Pat Flannelly have been outspoken in their criticism of starting a syringe services program in Lafayette, for fear that it’ll bring more drug users to the county and exacerbate the crime problem.

Currently, the nearest county to Greater Lafayette with a needle exchange is Madison County, northeast of Indianapolis.

Tippecanoe County leaders must still find a location to dispense any services the county wishes to provide, and they have to identify a funding stream.

State law says public money cannot fund needle exchanges, so several counties have sought private benefactors.

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