EAST HARLEM, N.Y. - A new report is coming to the defense of the city's two safe injection sites-claiming they have not led to an increase in crime.
More than 3,000 drug users have visited the sites over the past year.
East Harlem residents walked past paramedics checking on two drug users on Thursday afternoon. It's not unusual to see the effects of heroin in the zombie-like men and women lingering around 125th and Lex, which is close to one of two of the city's safe injection sites.
On-Point NYC, intravenous drug users can shoot up under supervision, and quickly help in the case of an overdose.
"When they opened there was a lot of fear that the first two such sites in the United States would attract crime and disorder, and they would somehow degrade the neighborhood," said Dr. Brandon Del Pozo, of Brown University, who helped research a new study on how safe injection sites have no change on crime.
"They have to be somewhere," said one East Harlem resident. "That's the way I look at it."
The safe injection sites opened about a year ago. FOX 5 pulled the NYPD crime statistics for this precinct and found crime is down by about 9%, but that doesn't mean residents know what to make of the clinic.
"Just knowing the situation of this area and the stuff that goes on," said another resident. "And that being there, it's kind of contradicting itself, so I didn't understand it, but hopefully, it's for the best. I'm not sure."
Dr. Del Pozo says the safe injection center was previously a needle exchange, in an already highly-needed neighborhood when it came to addiction and overdose.
The site, along with the second location in Washington Heights, has resulted in 700 overdoses when drug-related deaths are skyrocketing across New York.
He points to the U.S. Attorney for Southern New York Damian Williams, who previously characterized the sites as unlawful and threatened to close them.
"If the concern is about crime or disorder in East Harlem that is increased because of the opening of the site, compared to before the site was open," Dr. De Pozo said.