When the global pandemic began to hit home in Maine back in March, many community leaders feared what effect it may have on Portland's most vulnerable population. As shelters reached capacity and life became far different for most of us, where would it leave the homeless, the addicted or those struggling with mental illness? In a press release shared on Facebook by the Portland Police Department, some of those worst fears seem to be taking place right now.

One of the more startling revelations by the Portland Police is the discovery of more than 1,000 used needles scattered across public property since May 1st. That's an average of nearly 150 used needles found on the ground per month. Police worry that many of these needles are found in areas that are easily accessible to children or pets, and any used needle can present significant danger for joggers or walkers.  If you happen to come across a used needle, Portland PD urge you to contact Portland Public Works immediately 207-874-8493 or submit a service request so that an individual who is properly trained can dispose of the needle.

Portland continues to offer two programs that are intended to help reduce used needles discarded in public areas. Those include the 20 containers throughout the city where needles can be disposed of safely. Portland also offers a needle exchange program at 103 India Street.

If you spend time walking through Portland's parks, trails and other public areas, please be on alert for any used needles for your safety and the safety of others.