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Police collect unused prescription drugs during ‘Take Back Day’ event last Saturday

  • Condy Jarnigan of Clinton hands over a bag of unused prescription drugs to Clinton Chief of Police Vaughn Becker outside the Clinton Police Department on Saturday, Oct. 26, during the Drug Take Back event sponsored locally by ASAP of Anderson. Clinton, Norris and Rocky Top police departments accepted discarded prescriptions. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Officer Mitch Wade and Dispatcher Jacqueline West staff the booth in front of the Rocky Top Police Department on Saturday during the Drug Take Back Day event sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local law enforcement agencies across the nation to encourage people to turn over unused and unneeded prescription drugs to be destroyed so they do not fall into the hands of drug abusers. - G. Chambers Williams III

This year’s second Drug Take Back Day was a success in Anderson County last Saturday as more than 100 pounds of unused or expired prescription drugs were turned in at area police departments.

Officers were set up outside police or fire stations from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. to collect the unused drugs, which were to be turned over to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration – the national sponsor of the event – for safe disposal by incineration. Locally, the sponsor is the Clinton-based ASAP of Anderson (Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention).

Saturday’s turnout was much lighter than in April, when this year’s first Take Back Day was held. That led some officials to speculate that both Saturday’s dreary weather and the presence of permanent drug-collection boxes at area police departments and some pharmacies have helped reduce the unwanted drugs people have on hand.

At the Clinton Police Department, Chief Vaughn Becker said 19 people dropped off 43.7 pounds of drugs.

“That’s pretty good for a day, but our permanent collection box usually averages about 80 pounds of drugs a month,” he said.

Norris officers and dispatchers collected 10.2 pounds of drugs, said interim Police Chief Mike Poole. But he said the department collected more than 100 pounds during the event in April.

“One person came from all the way from Halls,” Poole said. “I think the weather kept a lot of people from coming out.”

At Norris, “Some of what was dropped off was pet medications,” the chief said. “Pets are given some of the same drugs we get.”

Norris City Manager Scott Hackler said people bring unneeded drugs to the Police Department regularly anyway.

“We’re getting a lot of regular drops in our collection lock box just inside the front door of the dispatch office,” Hackler said. “People are getting used to that.”

At the Rocky Top Police Department, just two pounds of drugs were collected, according to Dispatch Supervisor Jacqueline West.

“Last time we got seven pounds, she said.”

She and Officer Mitch Wade staffed the booth for the event.

ASAP of Anderson Executive Director Stephanie Strutner said Monday that the organization appreciates the community’s efforts to dispose of unused prescriptions.

“We appreciate our law enforcement partners who continue to support this crucial effort,” she told the Courier News. “Every person plays a role in prevention. One simple thing people can do is properly dispose of their medications.

“People in Anderson County have done an excellent job properly disposing of medications over the past decade. However, it is crucial that we continue to properly dispose of our medications, and secure and monitor them in the home to protect from diversion and misuse.”