Lorrine Patterson, (left), hands over a bag of unused drugs to Sgt. Yohance Brunson with the Jefferson County Sheriffs Office during their drug drop-off campaign held at the Brookshire’s Grocery on 28th and Hazel on Saturday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
Sgt. Yohance Brunson with the Jefferson County Sheriffs Department, drop in a bag of unused drugs into a large bin during the drug drop-off campaign held at the Brookshire’s Grocery on 28th and Hazel on Saturday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
A bin full of old medication collected during the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day held Saturday. (Special to the Commercial/William Harvey)
The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office and the Pine Bluff Police Department collected a large amount of old medications Saturday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. as part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.
The JCSO set up shop in the parking lot of the Brookshire’s Grocery at 28th Avenue and Hazel Street while the PBPD was stationed at the USA Drug location at E. Harding Avenue and Ohio Street during the event that saw good public participation according to the agencies.
JCSO Sgt. Yohance Brunson, Tri-County Drug Task Force Operations Supervisor, was pleased with the turnout at Brookshire’s.
“We’ve had between 60 and 70 people come by so far,” Brunson said at 1:30 Saturday afternoon. “This is a good thing for the community. We get a lot of elderly residents who are able to get rid of their unused medicines and many of them just want to be able to talk to someone, so it is also a chance for us to reach out to the community.”
Brunson said that the JCSO had collected somewhere between 70 and 80 pounds of prescription and non-prescriptions medications as of 1:30 p.m.
“If we still have people coming at 2 p.m. we’ll stay around until 2:30 or 3,” Brunson said. “When we are finished here we will seal up these plastic collection bins the same way we secure evidence and then take them to the Arkansas State Police Troop E headquarters and hand them off to DEA personnel.”
John Tate, of Pine Bluff, was at the Brookshire’s to drop off several bags of medications.
“I think this is a wonderful idea,” Tate said of the take-back program.
“I see the public participation has been superb,” Tate said as he looked at the two plastic bins piled high with the medications that had been dropped off by the public. “It really is a benefit to the community to have this available.”
Simmons First National
Brunson said that the JCSO will be partnering with Simmons First National Bank and its Chairman and CEO J. Thomas May to set up permanent prescription drug drop-off boxes around town.
“Simmons has agreed to partner with the sheriff’s office to set up three or four permanent drug collection drop boxes in town,” Brunson said. “Simmons will be paying for them. They will be secured to make sure that nobody who is not authorized to get into them can get into them. With these drop-off boxes people won’t have to wait for one of these events to safely dispose of their old expired and unused medications.”
The PBPD effort netted two boxes of medicines that had been dropped off by around ten people by 2 p.m.
“Prescription pills are the drug epidemic now,” said PBPD public information officer Lt. JoAnn Bates. “Kids are going into their parent’s and grandparent’s medicine cabinets to get them. Events like this one today get unused and expired pills out of their hands.”
“These prescription pills can be just as dangerous as illegal drugs,” Bates said. “People sometimes think that because they were prescribed by a doctor they are okay to use. This is of course not true at all.”
Drug Take-Back Days were previously held May 3, 2012 and Nov. 3, 2011.