LITTLE COMPTON — It cost $650, it’s on duty 24/7 in the lobby of the Little Compton police station, has four legs, and it helps fight drug abuse in town.
Block letters on the front of it tell you what it is: “Prescription Drug Drop-Off Box,” the letters say. It’s the police department’s latest acquisition.
Little Compton Police Chief Sidney Wordell said the box was purchased three weeks ago and set up last Wednesday, Dec. 12, in the front foyer of the police station, where it will remain day in and day out, seven days per week, 365 days a year. It sits right next to the dispatch window, clearly visible to anyone entering the station.
The idea behind the box, said Chief Wordell, is to create an easy place for people to safely get rid of prescription medications they no longer need, that are unused, are out-dated, or for any reason are no longer wanted around the house.
Chief Wordell encourages people to drop them off in the drop box, which is always accessible. Better that than throw them in the garbage, or dispose of them in their septic systems, he said.
And far better, he says, that leaving them around for a child to find, or an intruder to discover in a quest for drugs. As an example of the latter, Chief Wordell refers to a man recently arrested in town on charges of breaking and entering.
“We’re jumping on the backs of the DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration],” he says, referring to the DEA’s initiatives in recent years to create periodic “drug drop off days” that last a few hours only. The Little Compton department is taking the concept a step further to enhance opportunities for drug abuse prevention.
There’s a view, Chief Wordell said, “that prescription drugs are less dangerous than more notorious drugs.”
Not so, he says. Statistics show that 2,500 youths every day take prescription pain relievers to get high, he says, and there are 40 overdose deaths attributable to painkillers.
Chief Wordell wants these drugs out of circulation in Little Compton, and the best way for people to help in accomplishing this goal is to bring the unwanted drugs into the station, and leave them in the Drop-Off Box. This could include, for example, opiates, vicodin, “all the condones (such as oxycodone), anti-depressants, and adderall, among many others.
“We purchased the drop box ourselves,” he said. All it is is a heavy (about 150 pounds, he said) metal box, that operates like a mail box. Pull the front door down and drop things in. No liquids, needles, syringes, or other medical waste are allowed. The box will be monitored regularly by the police, he said.
“We have an agreement with the state department of health for the proper disposal of the contents left in the box,” he said.
Chief Wordell and department Sgt. John Faria recently attended a training session that in part dealt with the issue of prescription drug abuse, just the sort of substances Little Compton police hope will be dropped in the box.
Sgt. Faria said all drugs left in the box will be no-questions-asked. The box is intended as a abuse prevention effort, not as an enforcement tool.