Rotary teams with police to offer Medicine Drop box

Sherry Matthews Editor

October 3, 2013

Getting rid of unused, old and cabinet-filling prescription medications just got easier thanks to a partnership between the Clinton-Sampson Rotary Club and the Clinton Police Department.

With the ever-increasing use of the department’s twice yearly Operation Medicine Drop as the catalyst, Police Chief Jay Tilley and Sgt. Anthony Davis began eyeing ways to make the bi-annual event a daily occurrence, hoping to secure a dropoff box that residents could use as often as they wanted, rather than storing them up for the annual event generally held in the fall and spring.

Thanks to the Clinton-Sampson Rotary Club’s willingness to fund the project, a bright blue dropoff box is now accessible Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Police Department.

“We were delighted we were able to help with such a worthwhile project,” said Clinton-Sampson Rotary president Victoria Byrd. “This was certainly something that was needed, and anytime we can partner with organizations like the Police Department to make a difference in our community, we want to do so.”

That difference, Tilley said, is huge.

“This box will help our NIT (Neighborhood Improvement) team with their ongoing battle with prescription medications. It is a way to help us combat the prescription medication problem we see so often in this community.”

Tilley offered his appreciation to the Rotary Club’s members for their willingness to partner on the project. “When you have partnerships with civic clubs and private industry, it is a great way to combat these types of crimes, especially given the limited resources of local government.

“I’m very appreciative to the Rotary Club and Anthony Davis.”

Operation Medicine Drop, Tilley said, was something Davis instituted at the Police Department several years back when he became the supervisor of the NIT team.

“It has grown immensely since that first year,” Davis interjected, noting his pleasure with how the public has responded.

He expects that response to be even greater now that the public can drop by the Police Department most any time and dispose of their unused prescription meds.

“This will be far more convenient, and I really think people will utilize it a great deal.”

It won’t, however, take the place of the bi-annual Medicine Drop, which will continue.

“That’s been very successful for us,” Davis stressed. “It didn’t start out that way. I think that first year we only got something like 4,700 dosage units. But it has taken off since. We get four or five times that amount now. It’s grown so much that I now have to weigh it. I think last spring we collected somewhere around 100,000 dosage units.”

And that goes to show, Tilley said, that keeping the public informed and offering them dropoff sites, such as Medicine Drop provided, and now the stationary drop box offers, has made it easy for individuals to dispose of those prescriptions that once were left dangerously unattended in medicine cabinets across the city and county.

“We do this to keep old, unused, potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of people who don’t need them,” Tilley stressed during an interview about Medicine Drop last spring. “And, we do it so people won’t flush them down their toilets. When they do that, it’s flushing chemicals into the water supply, and we are doing our best to reduce that as well.”

Instead of flushing those prescriptions, police are urging residents to pack them up and carry them the dropoff box.

“It’s a far better solution and it protects the water,” the police chief stressed.

It also, Davis said, prevents use of those drugs by someone else.

“One of the biggest problems we see,” Tilley pointed out earlier, “is people abusing prescription drugs. And there are a lot of old, expired, unused medicines sitting in medicine cabinets at mom and dad’s, grandma and grandpa’s.”

If the drugs are discarded — and in the proper manner — the temptation is no longer there to use them.

Even tossing them in the trash doesn’t prevent prescription medicines from getting into the hands of addicts or, even, curious children.

“Those who are addicted don’t have a problem rummaging through the trash in hopes of finding some drugs that were tossed out,” Tilley acknowledged last spring. “We are looking to provide a safe way for people to discard of their medicines, a way that protects the environment and keeps them out of the wrong hands.”

That way is Medicine Drop, and now the daily availability of a dropoff box.

The box has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration and medications dropped off at the Police Department will be disposed of through the State Bureau of Investigation’s Environmental Health and Diversion Unit, whose members will carry them to the state incinerator.

“We’ve had a lot of calls from residence inquiring about ways to dispose of their prescription medications in between Medicine Drop. This new dropoff box is there to accommodate the need. We hope people will take advantage of it,” Tilley said.