An extremely popular drug program, with community-wide value touted by Clinton Police, is on track to haul in another whopping amount of prescription drugs that, otherwise, might wind up in the trash, in the water supply or, officials fear, in the hands of children.
That’s why officers are once again calling on residents to turn over their unused or outdated medications, and offering a special day — and a special place — in which to do so.
It’s all part of the now annual Operation Medicine Drop, a program that has grown in popularity each of the five years the city police have been involved in the statewide exercise.
This year’s drop will be held Friday, May 16, from 9 a.m. until noon, in partnership with Walgreens on College Street in Clinton.
“This have been a very, very successful program,” attested Clinton Police Chief Jay Tilley. “It’s really made an impact on getting available narcotics off our streets. Anytime you do that, I call it a tremendous success.”
With 58 pounds collected so far this year as part of the daily program offered by the Police Department at its Lisbon Street location, coupled with what the chief anticipates collecting during Friday’s event, Tilley believes the annual total will skyrocket.
“There’s no question we’re on track right now to double the amount of drugs we received last year,” he said. Leading up to last year’s event, the Police Department had amassed over 40,000 dosage units. This year, with the measurement now changing to pounds, the totals are likely to be that much more impressive.
“We think they will be,” said Sgt. Robbie King, who is heading up this year’s Medicine Drop event. “With all the inquiries we’ve had, we expect this to be another successful event.”
Officers will be set up at Walgreens to take the medications, described as anything not being used, be it something leftover from a deceased family member, outdated medicines that are taking up space in a medicine cabinet or prescriptions filled but not used. All, King said, would be taken and then destroyed.
Those turning in medicine, officers stressed, should not take labels off. “We will make sure everyone’s identity is protected, but if the labels are not on them, we aren’t allowed to take them,” King said.
Tilley said the growing popularity of Medicine Drop and the now oft used drop set up inside the Police Department shows the public’s interest in protecting themselves and others from the dangers of prescription drugs.
“I think the growth in interest comes from the fact that we have really worked to educate the public on the problems we have with prescription medications and the importance of discarding them in a proper manner. Once educated, our citizens have made a concerted effort to clean out their medicine cabinets and get them to us. It’s definitely been a joint effort, and one we hope will continue.”
King and Tilley said the importance of keeping prescription meds out of the hands of those for whom they weren’t intended could not be stressed enough.’
“We do this to keep old, unused, potentially dangerous drugs out of the hands of people who don’t need them,” Tilley has repeatedly stressed. “And, we do it so people won’t flush them down their toilets or toss them in the garbage. When they put them in the toiler, it’s flushing chemicals into the water supply, and we are doing our best to reduce that as well.”
Those tossed in the garbage often find their way into unintended hands, as well. Sometimes it’s children, and sometimes it’s dumpster divers looking for a quick fix.
“We actually caught someone recently doing just that,” Tilley said. “They were diving in the dumpster and found some drugs.”
With Medicine Drop and the daily site open at the Police Department, officers are hoping residents will use those as alternative ways to dispose of medications in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.
“We urge everyone to go through their medicine cabinet, bag up those bottles and get them to us, either Friday at Walgreens or during any week, 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Police Department,” King said, stressing that even on weekends, if called, an officer will meet citizens at the department and escort them to the fixed dropoff box in their offices.
“We are trying to make this as convenient as possible,” King said. “It’s a valuable tool that we want the public to utilize.”
(Editor Sherry Matthews can be reached at 910-592-8137, ext. 111. Follow us on Twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.)