Half a ton of medications received, during half-day Rx turn-in event

Discover why law enforcement agencies say these events are vitally important for community safety. And, learn where you can dispose of your own unused medications any day …

Crime Prevention Coordinator Samantha Freeman, and Diversion Investigator Jenna Akiyama from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, help Joyce Tebo dispose of her unused medications in Gateway.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
As part of a national effort, local law enforcement agencies made it easy for people to rid their medicine cabinets of unused prescription drugs and over-the-counter remedies on April 28.

In the Gateway Fred Meyer lot along NE 102nd Avenue, Portland Police Bureau (PPB) East Precinct officers and command staff, as well as the Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) crime prevention folks, and a representative from the US Drug Enforcement Administration, together provided a safe place to dump their drugs.

Portland Police Bureau East Precinct Neighborhood Response Tteam Sergeant Wendi Steinbronn loads one of the sixteen boxes of discarded medications collected April 28th into a truck.

Neighbor Joyce Tebo pulled up, and presented a bag full of her unused medications to the collection station.

“I wanted to get rid of the medications we’re not going to use,” Tebo said. “I didn’t want to flush them down the toilet, and have them end up in the rivers.  I wanted to get rid of them a safe way.”

She came out to the turn-in event, Tebo said, because having it sponsored and operated by the police gave it “official authority”. “Because it’s our police, I know these will be properly handled and disposed of – just like they say they will do.”

One of the more than 100 folks who dropped off medications on April 28th places his unused medications in a box for disposal.

ONI Crime Prevention Coordinator Katherine Anderson talked with East Portland News about their day’s mission. “It’s really important to have medications, especially prescription drugs, turned in – because it’s one way to make sure drugs don’t fall into the wrong hands. It prevents them from getting ‘on the streets, eventually reaching those who would use them illegally.”

Of particular concern, Anderson said, are young people. “It’s not uncommon for kids to ‘raid’ their parents’ medicine cabinets, looking for drugs they think might get them high. But, drugs that help some people can kill others. Part of what we’re doing here today is educating people about medication safety.”

The drugs collected were to be incinerated, containers and all, revealed ONI Crime Prevention Coordinator Samantha Freeman. “Many people think flushing drugs down the toilet is the ideal way to dispose of them – but that’s been proven to pollute our rivers and aquifers.”

It looks as if one of the 16 drug collection boxes at the Gateway site is already almost full.

Freeman reminded visitors that they can always dispose of drugs at the PPB East Precinct lobby on SE 106th Avenue, at the secure drop box from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. “You can bring your prescription medications, over-the-counter pills, vitamins – but not ‘sharps or inhalers’ – and know they’ll be safely and securely disposed of.”

In total, the one-day event at Gateway collected 16 boxes of medications, a total of 560 pounds of them, from more than 100 people who visited the site.

At the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office Hanson Building, a visitor drops off a bag of prescription medications.

On the same day, the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office was also holding a similar event.

“Approximately eleven boxes – about 400 lbs of prescription medications – were turned in, including those from the Med-Return box in the lobby,” reported MCSO Public Information Officer, Lt. Steven Alexander.

“Be sure to let your readers know that the Med-Return box is always available at the building [at 12240 N.E. Glisan Street] during regular lobby hours,” Alexander added.

So, with these two secure locations to which you can take your unused, discarded medications in outer East Portland – there’s no longer any excuse to keep them at home, or to flush them down the toilet!

© 2012 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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