BROCKTON, Mass. – For more than two years a handful of Brockton residents have been doing everything in their power to keep the city clean of needles, but what they’re seeing firsthand is that the problem is only getting worse.
Under the cloak of darkness and armed only with a flashlight, the volunteers in red jackets and red berets take to the streets of Brockton.
“We go everywhere in Brockton, mainly it's the downtown area,” Harry Green Jr. said.
They go straight to the front lines of a deadly and dangerous problem.
“Hypodermic needles, the little cans to cook it little tubes of water to boil the heroin,” Green said.
The members of the citizen non-profit group Operation Arch Angels have been meeting up weekly since Green founded it in 2015 to seek out drug hot spots across the city.
“One night we came to this very spot right here on the stairs and the woman still had a rubber band on her arm, needle still in her arm,” volunteer John Hayes said.
Sometimes working in just teams of two, they'll pick up and dispose of drug paraphernalia including used syringes left out in the open by addicts.
“During the course of our patrol we can pick up maybe like 30 needles,” Green said.
As Boston 25 News reporter Jacob Long witnessed firsthand Wednesday night, there's no shortage of potentially harmful items just lying on the ground.
“Our goal is to clean it up so that way if children are walking through parks they won’t step on it or play doctor and stick it in them,” Green said.
With every discarded item they pick up, the volunteers hope it's a step closer to deterring drug use and crime they say is plaguing the city's reputation.
“It brings you down, the perception of Brockton is almost correct when they say bad things about it,” Hayes said.
Operation Arch Angels says on occasion volunteers will stumble upon an actual addict who's in the process of using or overdosing, and for that reason they also carry Narcan.
They've also started recording their patrols to post on YouTube because they say the public needs to see what they're seeing.
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