Drug take-back offered at local police departments

On Saturday, Oct. 26, a number of area police departments are participating in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) National Take Back Initiative. According to the DEA’s Web site, “National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications.”

Coastal Point • Maria Counts: A box of drugs taken back by a local police department.Coastal Point • Maria Counts: A box of drugs taken back by a local police department.The take-back will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ocean View, Selbyville, Dagsboro and Rehoboth police departments, as well as Delaware State Police Troop 4 in Georgetown and Beebe Medical Center in Lewes.

The Ocean View Police Department has been participating in the initiative for years, and recently began collecting pharmaceuticals on a daily basis in the Wallace A. Melson Municipal Building.

“The chief had a great idea,” said OVPD Capt. Heath Hall. “We used to use the box as an evidence locker, back when we were our old station. We had this sitting up in our storage area, and the chief said, ‘Why don’t we bring it down here and people can drop it off whenever they want?’”

The locked box, which resembles an old outdoor letter box, is painted blue and allows anyone to stop into the building and dispose of medications, no questions asked.

“You don’t have to take them out of the containers, but people don’t have to bring in the prescription bottle if they’re worried about the information displayed. The drugs can be placed in a plastic Ziploc bag,” said Hall.

Hall said Ocean View will not only accept pills but also liquid medications. He added that the only items that cannot be accepted in the take-back are syringes and needles. He noted that the department has received many phone calls over the years regarding how to properly dispose of prescription drugs.

“We have a lot of senior citizens in the area. A lot of them have ailments. Or we have people who are passing away and leaving behind a lot of prescription medications, and their families don’t know what to do with it all,” he said. “Come on by, drop it off in our box, and we’ll take care of it.”

Hall said that the take-back is important to keeping the environment healthy.

“If we don’t collect them, all of it would be in our water system. Otherwise, people would flush it down their toilet, pour it down the drain or throw it away in the trash, and it’ll end up in our landfills and filter down into our groundwater and contaminate our water.”

The take-back is also designed to put prescription medications out of the reach of those who might abuse them, with a growing focus on the problem of prescription drug abuse. The initiative has been well-received by the community, as Hall said the locker in the lobby has to be emptied of dropped-off drugs about once a week.

“I’m sure we’ll have over a couple hundred pounds of pills they’re going to take from us.”

According to the DEA, in April, 742,497 pounds (371 tons) of prescription medications were collected from members of the public at more than 5,829 locations.

Hall added that, if for some reason the DEA ends the take-back initiative, the Ocean View Police Department will still continue to offer the disposal service.

“If the DEA quits doing it, we’ll continue to do it. The Department of Agriculture in Dover has a pretty large incinerator that we could use to dispose of it properly.”

The Ocean View Police Department is located at 201 Central Avenue in Ocean View, next to the Bear Trap Dunes community. The Selbyville Police Department is located at 68 W. Church Street in Selbyville. The Dagsboro Police Department is located at 33134 Main Street in Dagsboro. Delaware State Police Troop 4 is located at 23652 Shortly Road in Georgetown.

For more information on the take-back initiative, visit www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback.