Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Albuquerque seeing increase in needles in parks, graffiti

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The city’s cleanup crews always stay busy. But this year, they’re seeing more needles in parks than usual and more graffiti than in years past.

“With the increase in needles, I don’t think it’s necessarily a safety concern because we do have a quick turnaround on our sharps pickup,” Shay Armijo, the Parks Superintendent, said.

Almost 6,000 needles have been picked up around Albuquerque so far this year. That’s a slight increase over previous years. The city has a team of two trained specifically in collecting and disposing of needles, and they’re keeping busy in our local parks. They’re generally alerted by parkgoers to the discarded needles.

“I think that a lot of people are reporting the sharps properly, so I think that is maybe the reason for the slight increase that we have seen,” Armijo said.

But it’s not just needles Albuquerque is seeing more of. The city’s team that cleans up graffiti has already seen 6,000 more calls for service this year compared to 2021. On Tuesday, KRQE News 13 found more than a dozen reports of graffiti on the 311 app.

A business on Central near Eubank was getting cleaned up Tuesday afternoon, and crews say this isn’t the first time this place has been sprayed down. “I think I’m just so normalized with graffiti, I’m desensitized. I see it every day. It’s normal,” Clean City Supervisor Sounthone Sanouvong said.

The team of 18 responds to up to 200 graffiti calls a day, rushing from one spot to the next. They are constantly making stops on their way to calls too.

“Whenever our graffiti techs see on the side of the roads that aren’t called in and they’ll just pull over and pick it up or get with the business owners if they want us to take care of it and get consent if they want us too,” Sanouvong said.

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