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.
Calls to the county health officer were not returned Thursday.