Jerry Lenthall, the chairman of the Board of Supervisors, says he's sorry that he initially opposed a needle exchange program that has shown impressive results in its first year.
"I really owe you a public apology," Lenthall told Public Health Director Greg Thomas during the Dec. 13 supervisors meeting.
As a former police officer, Lenthall said, he was resistant to the idea that giving needles to drug users could be a good thing.
"We had serious questions and comments and concerns," he said. "That wasn't the culture I came from, when you see what needles do to somebody."
Under the state program, addicts are given a sterile needle if they turn in a used one. About 50 individuals have been using the program, turning in more than 5,300 needles. They can turn in up to 30 at a time.
Initial results are promising. Reported cases of hepatitis C in the county, for example, have plunged since the program began in November of 2006, from 164 cases the previous year to 47 this year.