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Civic Center drug drive up a success

People dropped off more than 300 pounds of unwanted or outdated prescription drugs to law enforcement officials between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the civic center.

People dropped off more than 300 pounds of unwanted or outdated prescription drugs to law enforcement officials between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the civic center.

ALBANY, Ga. -- People drove up to law enforcement officers as if they were approaching a take-out food window. They dropped off prescription drugs instead.

Local law enforcement agencies and Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful accepted outdated or unwanted prescription drugs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday at the Albany Civic Center parking lot's Oglethorpe Boulevard entrance.

No questions asked.

"So far, the oldest pills turned in are from 1965, we have a lot from the 1980s, too," said Major Bill Berry of the Albany Dougherty Drug Unit. "And syringes, there are a lot of syringes turned in."

Dubbed Operation Pill Drop, the local endeavor joined in a national effort to keep drugs from being flushed down toilets. Berry said at the end of the drop off, residents had turned in 301 pounds of drugs.

Those drugs were incinerated.

Drugs disposed of by flushing down the toilet have a habit of going through wastewater plants to return to the environment including the water supply, said Judy Bowles, director of Keep Albany-Dougherty Beautiful. That was the reason for the operation, she added.

Authorities made it easy to drop off the drugs by making a drive through lane from the driveway on Oglethorpe Boulevard to a parking lot exit lane. No one had to get out of the car to dispose of the drugs.

"I'd say that by 11:30 (a.m.) we had more than 100 vehicles drive through to drop off drugs," said Dougherty County Police Department Chief Don Cheeks.

Pulling up to the line to dispose of her expired prescription drugs, Lana Haggerty, an Albany resident, was enthusiastic about the drop off.

"I think they should do this twice a year," Haggerty said. "People just don't know how to dispose of their drugs."

At the end of the drop-off line, Albany Police Department officers and AmeriCorps cadets handed out brochures with information about drug disposal. The brochure stated, above all, "Never flush medications."

Operation Pill Drop was also supported by deputies from the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office.