PORT JERVIS—A Port Jervis police officer was called to a home and, when he entered, saw a candy bowl on a table. The bowl was not filled with candy, but with prescription pills of all shapes and sizes.
Port Jervis Police Chief William Worden said the occupant of the residence offered pills to guests when they entered the house. Guests would be invited to “just grab and take whatever medication you want,” Worden said.
The guest would never know what the result of taking a pill would be.
To reduce this kind of dangerous activity, Port Jervis residents now have a place to dispose of their unwanted, unused, and expired medications. CVS donated a medication collection unit to the city and Operation PJ Pride collaborated with the police department and the National Guard’s counter drug task force to install it in city hall.
The collection box was unveiled on June 13 at city hall next to the police department. Operation PJ Pride spearheaded the effort after the untimely deaths of local teens.
The CVS Medicine Abuse Project donated the unit as part of a national initiative to encourage kids to be drug free.
Worden said “medicines languish in our medicine cabinets, they languish in kitchen cabinets, drawers, bedroom closets—wherever people choose to leave them” and where they can be misused and abused, possibly by children.
Worden highlighted a 2014 Partnership for Drug Free kids study where he said more than 70 percent of teenagers said it was easy to get prescription medications from their own medicine cabinets.
Abuse can lead to accidental poisoning or overdose and criminal activity. Worden said the prescription drugs are “a hot item for would-be burglars and people that are out to steal items within houses.” The police department reported 66 prescription theft reports in the past four and a half years.
The collection box is available for drug drop-off 24 hours a day, seven days a week, no questions asked or forms to fill out.
Executive Director of the city’s Community Development Agency Valerie Maginsky said the organization now has a full-time project coordinator, Lindsey Carroll, to do more in this area.
The Air National’s Counter Drug Task Force for the Mid-Hudson region acts as a go-between among coalitions, law enforcement agencies, and pharmacies, according to Sgt Kerissa Lombardo.
Worden says syringes should be dropped off at the police station and not in the collection box, but prescription liquids and even illicit drugs can be dropped off.
“I wouldn’t discourage someone from doing that at all,” Worden said. “We can easily dispose of those without danger to the staff that are collecting the medications.” About every six months the box will be emptied and incinerated at a location in Dutchess County.
County legislator Tom Faggione said, “This collection box is just one step in that positive direction of making a difference.”
“This is one of those unique opportunities to be able to remove more drugs off the street before it becomes a police matter, before it becomes an overdose,” said Mayor Kelly Decker.
“This is truly a celebration of the hard work that we are doing as a community to provide effective prevention opportunities for our residents,” Worden said.
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