The City of Eureka formally announced Wednesday that it is opposed to the state’s reauthorization of the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction’s Syringe Exchange Program after citizen complaints led Eureka Police to conduct extensive undercover operations in which officers allegedly observed multiple incidents of drug use and drug trafficking in and around the HACHR facility.

In its letter to the state, the city cited the results of a seven-month “factfinding investigation” of HACHR ordered by Eureka Police Chief Steve Watson. The attached report, written by Capt. Brian Stephens of the EPD, details the result of that investigation, in which the department’s Problem Oriented Policing Unit, in cooperation with the Humboldt County Drug Task Force, conducting a series of undercover operations at HACHR’s facility.

The report’s conclusion states: “Based on multiple complaints received from community members and business owners, the undercover operations conducted by the POP team, and the interactions with HACHR, they are knowingly allowing drug trafficking to occur on their premises. Additionally, based on the observations of the UC [undercover agent] it appears HACHR is allowing drug use to take place inside their business.”

City Attorney Robert Black told the California Department of Public Health that this investigation showed that HACHR is “complicit in the sale and on-site use of drugs.”

Read the City of Eureka release below and EPD’s full report farther down:

On October 8, 2018, the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) authorized the Humboldt Area Center for Harm Reduction’s Syringe Exchange Program (SEP) in Eureka, California for a two-year period. The CDPH is now deciding whether to reauthorize HACHR’s SEP in Eureka. The CDPH asked the City of Eureka to provide input on the re-authorization process.

On August 7, 2020, the City of Eureka submitted a letter and memorandum in opposition to HACHR’s application for reauthorization. The City of Eureka is in favor of SEPs that comply with the letter and intent of the law, as evidenced by the City Council’s Resolution in Support of HACHR in 2016. However, the City cannot support the SEP as operated by HACHR at this time.

The City’s opposition is based on its investigation into ongoing concerns about HACHR’s operations at its 3rd Street location. Based on neighbors’ complaints, the Eureka Police Department launched a fact-finding investigation, the details of which were forwarded to the CDPH and are linked to this release

Years of effort by the City and the community to work with HACHR have been ineffective. It is the City’s stance that HACHR has not, in good faith, responded to the community’s legitimate concerns about HACHR’s operations, and that HACHR’s SEP is not operating in compliance with state and local law. The City of Eureka’s letter and memorandum in opposition to HACHR’s SEP reauthorization can be found here.

Additional information will be released by the City Attorney as it becomes available.

DOCUMENTS: EPD Report on Undercover HACHR Monitoring Operations

Below: Video taken by an undercover agent working in coordination with the Eureka Police Department of apparent drug activity near the HACHR facility. A description of the circumstances surrounding this interaction can be found in the above linked report.