The Berks-Mont News (http://www.berksmontnews.com)

Kutztown, Fleetwood serve as sites for Berks Pharmaceutical Drop Box Initiative


By lmitchell@berksmontnews.com">Lisa Mitchell, Patriot Editorlmitchell@berksmontnews.com

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Kutztown Borough and Fleetwood Borough Police Departments received a Pharmaceutical Drop Box from the Berks County District Attorney’s office recently.
Kutztown Police Chief Craig Summers told The Patriot that the drop box is a good idea. So did Fleetwood Police Chief Steve Stinsky.
“I think the box is a terrific idea. Once I learned of the DA’s support of the program and his offer of sponsorship I strongly suggested that Fleetwood Police Department be a part of the program to the Mayor and to the Borough Council,” said Stinsky.
While Stinsky strongly suggested the program, he said the program wasnot a hard sell to Fleetwood Council and Fleetwood Mayor Tammy Gore.
“The citizens of Fleetwood are lucky to have such a forward leaning, community minded council,” said Stinsky.
Fleetwood’s box is located in the Community Center near the police station and borough office.
“This is great since not only is the building alarmed during off hours and blanketed with 24 hour a day video surveillance but it also serves as host to a plethora of organizations that are likely to have a use for the type of the service provided by the box,” he said.
Kutztown’s drop box is located at the Kutztown Police Department on Railroad Street, which Summers said is easily accessible for community members.
Summers said disposing of unwanted medications “helps the environment so people don’t discard old drugs down the toilet or into the trash which goes to a land fill.”
He believes this will decrease water contamination from improperly discarded medications.
Stinsky also talked about the environmental impact of improperly disposing medications.
“The pollution caused by flushing or dumping prescription medications down the drain poses a potential hazard to the ecosystem as well as to consumers, that’s us, of the water. You see prescription medications are not monitored or filtered in the same manner as other common pollutants,” said Stinsky.
Stinsky and Summers also said that the drop box, which is easily accessible to the public, gets medications out of the hands of those that might abuse or accidentally use the medications.
“The danger also exists of people accidentally taking medication that was prescribed to another member of the household or medications that have expired. This risk can be as hazardous as mixing different calibers of ammunition,” said Stinsky. “Having unwanted, unneeded or expired medications also presents a risk of misuse, either accidentally by young children or purposefully by other members of the household or visitors.”
Summers said, “Many young people use their parents’ medications. This way, when they are done with them, they can properly dispose of them.”
Stinsky said that before this program, residents had to wait for either the annual hazardous waste collections or the periodic DEA collection programs to properly dispose of their unwanted medications.
“Now throughout the year a person can promptly and in an environmentally friendly way, dispose of unwanted medications. If unwanted medications are promptly disposed of, a thief, a self prescribed medical expert or an addict have less of an opportunity to seize them either surreptitiously or through a direct and open theft,” said Stinsky.
How does this relate to crime?
“The link between drug addiction/abuse and crime is undeniable,” said Summers. “If someone does not get addicted to drugs, then that’s one person who is less likely to get involved in other crimes.”
Stinsky also talked about the relation between medications and crime.
“Targets of opportunity are limited and if a lower number of habitual drug offenders have access to what often times serve as gateway drugs to the abuse of heroin or illicit drugs, the problems and crime typically associated with drug abuse may be proportionally less as well,” said Stinsky.
Berks County District Attorney John T. Adams announced the launch of the Berks County Pharmaceutical Drop Box Initiative Program at the Berks County AG Center on March 7.
This program was developed as a cooperative effort between the District Attorney’s Office, the Council on Chemical Abuse and Berks County Solid Waste Authority.
Currently, the Berks County Solid Waste Authority, in conjunction with the Berks County District Attorney’s Detectives, offers pharmaceutical collection twice a year. During these scheduled collections, unwanted and expired medications both prescription and over the counter medicines are collected for incineration. Medications are collected in many forms including: tablet, liquid, ointment, inhaler, powder or patch.
This pharmaceutical/medication drop box disposal program will allow Berks County residents to discard unused or unwanted medication year round at secure locations.
“I would like to remind everyone that medications should be disposed of in their original containers and a black marker can be used to cross out any personal information they wish to protect and to not obliterate any of the identifying information for the drug so it can be sorted and disposed of properly,” said Stinsky.
Each drop box will be securely placed and locked within a township municipal police building where it can be protected. These drop boxes resemble a United States Postal Service mailbox, whereas there is an open door to collect medications, but once dropped they cannot be retrieved. Each box will also have a separate locked entry for District Attorney Detectives to retrieve the discarded medications. Inventoried medications will be incinerated at the discretion of the District Attorney’s Detectives and Solid Waste Authority.
“I would like to thank the Berks County District Attorney for coordinating the funding and support of this program and allowing the Fleetwood Police Department to be a part of it,” said Stinsky. “All a police department has to do to be part of this program is to provide a secure and publicly accessible location for the collection box as members of the Berks County Detectives Office maintain the responsibility for monitoring box usage to ensure the collection boxes are emptied as required.”
Other police departments and locations participating in the program include Amity Police Department, Bern Twp. Police Department, Birdsboro Police Department, Brecknock Police Department, Caernarvon Twp. Police Department, Central Berks Regional P.D., Exeter Twp. Police Department, Muhlenberg Police Department, Sinking Spring Police Department, Spring Twp. Police Department, and Western Berks Regional P.D., as well as Berks County Detectives, Berks Co. AG Center, 1238 Welfare Rd., Leesport.