The Houma Courier
TERREBONNE PARISH, La. — Exposed syringe needles can be hazardous to police, so a local law-enforcement agency bought a new device to destroy them.
The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office purchased 20 machines that incinerate drug needles in seconds. They're called SANDD -- Sharps and Needles Destruction Device.
Sheriff Jerry Larpenter said Terrebonne is one of the first law-enforcement agencies in the state to employ such a device. The machines, created by RedHawk Medical Products and Services of Baton Rouge and Lafayette, use an electrical arc to incinerate the needles when syringes are inserted.
The devices, about $180 each, will be connected to deputy patrol cars and will reduce the risk of officers getting stuck by drug needles at crime scenes or raids, Larpenter said.
"I try to do anything possible to keep these guys safe and get them whatever equipment they might need," the sheriff said. "The problem with needles is getting stuck. The crime scene people come across needles all the time."
Several deputies have been stuck by needles in the past, Larpenter said.
"A lot of these needles are left exposed, so when we're doing search warrants, we have to be careful," he said. "When we're looking for weapons or narcotics, we come across used needles. That's every day. Even the jail has to pay a monthly fee just to dispose of their needles. It's a shame that we have to deal with this but it's part of what we have to deal with."
With a temperature of over 4,500 degrees, the machines completely incinerate the needles along with any blood-borne pathogens and germs. When the syringe is pulled out, the needle is gone.
"It's like the opposite of a pencil sharpener," Larpenter said. "It will fry the needle so hot that there's nothing left. It just zaps them. With one machine we can do over 30,000 needles. If these needles aren't needed for evidence you can just discard them. When I saw this machine I thought it was a no-brainer. I wanted it for the safety of my police officers."
The destruction process does not affect the substance inside the syringe that might be needed for evidence, Larpenter said.
RedHawk Chairman and CEO Darcy Klug said the devices will help make a police officer's job a little bit safer.
"The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff's Office is among the first law-enforcement agencies to utilize this cutting-edge technology," Klug said. "We are thrilled to offer this increased margin of safety and security to our law-enforcement agencies."