Objectives: This study sought to determine whether introduction of a needle exchange program would be associated with increased crime rates.
Methods: Trends in arrests were compared in program and nonprogram areas before and after introduction of a needle exchange program in Baltimore. Trends were modeled and compared via Poisson regression.
Results: No significant differences in arrest trends emerged. Over the study period, increases in category-specific arrests in program and nonprogram areas, respectively, were as follows: drug possession, 17.7% and 13.4%; economically motivated offenses, 0.0% and 20.7%; resistance to police authority, 0.0% and 5.3%; and violent offenses, 7.2% and 8.0%.
Conclusions: The lack of association of overall and type-specific arrest data with program implementation argues against the role of needle exchange programs in increasing crime rates.