Spice causing problems at Downtown Phoenix park

- Over the weekend, there was an alarming spike in calls to a Downtown Phoenix park, with more than a half a dozen calls for service for the Phoenix Fire Department to Civic Space Park.

The park, situated right across from Arizona State University's Downtown Phoenix campus, was once mostly known for an art piece called "Her Name Is Patience". Now, the homeless have started coming to the park, reportedly because the Burton Barr Central Library has been closed, since a flooding linked to a monsoon storm on July.

Some new ASU students said they don't mind the presence of the homeless people.

"They're doing their thing. They don't really talk to us," said one student. "As long as they don't talk to us, they mind their own business."

Phoenix fire officials said, however, they had seven calls in that park during a 24-hour period. Of those seven calls, five were spice-related. Spice is a synthetic marijuana that can lead to psychotic episodes.

"I have no idea. I don't mess with it, so I have no clue," said Rick Ludington, Jr., a 38-year-old homeless man who frequents the park. "All I know is it's poison. It's poisoning all my brothers and sisters out here. It's very sad."

Phoenix Fire Captain Rob McDade said a multi-agency approach may be the best way to tackle the problem.

"We're open for suggestions, and we want to help out the community," said McDade. "We want to help those folks in that park, but its going to to take more than the Phoenix Police and Fire Department."

Phoenix Police officials said they are increasing both police and park ranger patrols in the area, in addition to outreach efforts with Phoenix's Human Services Department.

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