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Public Safety ‘takes back’ unused drugs

Submitted by Ricky Harris on September 30, 2010 – 12:36 pmNo Comment

The Department of Public Safety collected expired and unwanted prescription drugs on Saturday, Sept. 25, outside their office in University Plaza.

As part of the first ever National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, law enforcement agencies across the nation joined forces in offering people a safe, no questions asked, opportunity to properly dispose of their prescription drugs and over the counter medication.

According to http://www.artakeback.org/ Arkansas has ranked in the top ten among states with the highest rates of non-medical use of pain relievers by 12-20-year-olds since the studies began in 2002.

Detective Sharon Bowles of the Department of Public Safety was the head of the event at UALR.  Assisting in the collection was Kevin Booth, a DPS auxiliary officer and a Drug Endangered Children Specialist with the University of Arkansas’s Criminal Justice Institute.

Photo by Ricky Harris — Officer Kevin Booth of UALR’s department of public safety collects unused medications Saturday, Sept.25, as part of National Take-Back Day.

In reference to the statistics behind the abuse of prescription drugs, Booth said, “Local agencies don’t report all of the information…if you check four different websites you’ll get four different sets of statistics.” This occurs due to a lack of training on the subject, he said.

“It is important to get these drugs off the street.  Kids can be killed.  I’ve known of instances where kids put all sorts of pills into a bowl and just have a party,” Booth said.

For those who were not able to make it to a location on Saturday, agencies advise waiting until another take-back event like this.  “Police departments must receive permission from the Drug Enforcement Agency before being allowed to collect drugs like this,” Booth said.

If there is a need to get rid of medicine before then, Booth advised, “Mix up the pills in a bag with coffee grounds, grease or something of that nature that will make the medicine unusable.”

The Arkansas National Guard traveled throughout the state on Saturday afternoon to collect the medicine from take-back locations.

Bowles told The Forum that the final weight of pills collected was 9.8 lbs. “That is a lot of medicine,” she said. “I think it was a good turnout and I think each year we will get more as people learn about this location.” Bowles also mentioned hearing on the news that Benton Police have a permanent drop box for year-round disposal.  Pulaski County Sherriff’s Department plans to get one as well.

Students were also involved in the event.  Three resident assistants from East Hall, a part of the UALR student housing complex, assisted the officers.

Photo by Ricky Harris — A local woman drops off her unused medicine at DPS. From left to right: Annette Vinson, of Little Rock; Michelle Zengulis, junior strategic communications major; Joseph Amundson, sophomore professional and technical writing major; Allison Gadberry, sophomore undeclared major; Officer Kevin Booth, DPS.

“I thought this was a good idea because there are a lot of expired narcotics out there that potentially become dangerous or fall into the wrong hands,” said Joseph Amundson, who is a sophomore professional and technical writing major.

For more information on properly disposing of prescription drugs and narcotics abuse, visit www.justice.gov/dea or contact your local law enforcement agency.

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