“Now That’s A Lot of Drugs…”
Local Law Enforcement Ships Out Collected Prescription Drugs
By Brandi Makuski
More than 800 pounds of prescriptions drugs made their way out of the state for disposal on Monday — drugs which were gathered by area law enforcement from prescription drop boxes.
Along with last week’s drug take-back events, Sheriff Mike Lukas, Stevens Point Police Chief Marty Skibba and Plover Police Chief Dan Ault say their respective departments have taken in enough prescription drugs over the past few months to pack 24 boxes. Lukas said the drugs were sent to be incinerated at an out-of-state location.
Lukas declined to say where the incineration facility was located.
“But, what I can tell you is, the [drugs] are under guard the whole way there,” he said.
Lukas, along with Ault and Skibba, gathered in the sally-port of the Portage Co. Sheriff’s Office for a photo op with the prescription drugs on May 2.
“I can’t even begin to estimate what’s in there right now,” Ault said as he glanced over the boxes being stacked. “I mean, there’s thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars in street value there.”
Ault said leftover prescription drugs are often a gateway to heroin, a substance that has gripped the region in recent years, spurring new cooperative relationships between law enforcement agencies spanning several counties.
“When you take this stuff off the street, you’re making a big difference,” Ault said.
All three departments have collection boxes positioned in public areas, where unneeded and unused prescription drugs can be safely dropped off for proper disposal. Tubes and vials containing creams, salves, liquid medication and pills are carefully packaged inside blue-colored bags before being packed inside boxes and sealed.
While disposable needles are expressly not accepted in the prescription drug bins, Skibba said officers his department are finding them anyway.
“What we’ve found to help with needle recovery is, we just grabbed one of the sharps containers and put it right by the bin,” Skibba said. “We were finding them inside the regular bin and that’s a safety concern for officers who empty the bin and sort the prescription drugs.”
All told, about 850 pounds of drugs were sent for disposal.
“That’s more than we’ve ever had before,” Lukas said, adding the drugs were incinerated so they don’t end up in the water supply, which could cause harm to the environment.
Wisconsin has set a state and national record for the amount of drugs taken back in a single day, according to Attorney General Brad Schimel. Over 62,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected by 238 law enforcement agencies during a statewide drug take-back event held last week.
The previous record of just under 45,000 pounds, the amount collected during last October’s statewide take-back event.
Prescription drug collections will continue, Skibba said. Drop boxes for medicine are available at all three law enforcement agencies. Medications should be in their original container and have the name of the patient removed.