Local agencies come together for pill collection effort Saturday

Photo by J.D. Sumner

Photo by J.D. Sumner

ALBANY, Ga. -- Law enforcement and community agencies are partnering for an event at the Civic Center parking lot Saturday that they hope will help keep prescription drugs out of the wrong hands.

Operation Pill Drop is a collaborative effort between the Dougherty County Police Department, the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office, the Albany Police Department, the Albany-Dougherty Drug Unit and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful that will offer area residents an opportunity to safely discard unwanted or unused prescription medications, officials say.

The event will take place 10 a.m.-2 p.m.

Anyone with prescription drugs can bring them to the Civic Center without fear of having their personal information compromised, Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful Director Judy Bowles said, while also ensuring the pills are properly disposed.

"Everything that is flushed goes to the wastewater treatment plant and we're finding nationally that there are traces of medications in our water supply," Bowles said, "so we're asking that people never flush their medications and, instead, bring them out here to be properly disposed of."

In addition to the environmental risks associated with improperly discarding prescription pills, local law officials say prescription drug abuse is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation and that keeping pills out of the hands of abusers is important.

"What we see a lot of time are what we call pill parties. ... They'll find old pills and dump them into a bowl and pick them out like M&M's, so this helps with that, plus it helps keep children from mistakenly taking the medications thinking they're some kind of candy and getting sick," ADDU Commander Maj. Bill Berry said.

Lt. Terron Hayes of the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office reiterated the importance of keeping pills out of the hands of youth, who often choose to experiment with the drugs that can lead to sickness or death.

"At the Sheriff's Office, we're always concerned with our youth and we're behind this because we know that there are pills out on the street that have been thrown out or tossed out and that people and children stumble on those and experiment and get sick," Hayes said. "We hope that events like these will give people an alternative to just throwing their pills out and will help keep these drugs from getting in the wrong hands."

Dougherty County Police Chief Don Cheek underscored the teamwork involved in setting up the event, saying law enforcement and community groups can work together to effectively rid the streets of illicit and misused drugs.

"This is a partnership between law enforcement and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful is to get some of the pills out of the homes so that they can't be used by the wrong people," Cheek said. "Prescription drug abuse and accidental overdoses are a national problem and this is one way we can help."