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Drop off your old drugs with the cops

During a news conference Wednesday, local law enforcement and business representatives unveiled a prescription drug drop box that's housed in the Alexandria Police Department lobby. From left: Scott Kent, Alexandria Police captain; Doug Landgren and Shaynen Schmidt, Pro-Tainer; Robyn Snyder, Winning Edge Graphics; Rick Wyffels, Alexandria Police chief; and Nathan Reinbold, Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management. (Photo by Amy Chaffins)

A new safe way to dispose of unused prescription medication has been launched locally.

On Wednesday, Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels unveiled the department's new prescription drop box.

The large locked metal bin is located in the police department lobby and can be accessed during business hours.

During a news conference, Wyffels explained, "Citizens in our community can get rid of prescription drugs that are lying leftover in their medicine cabinet, rather than flushing them down the toilet. This will be a much more sanitary and safe way [to dispose of the drugs]."

Expired medications tossed in the trash or flushed down a toilet or drain can contaminate water, harm wildlife and pollute drinking water.

The chief added, "Drugs that are left in your cabinet are vulnerable to our youth population and/or addicted populations attempting to circulate that in our community. We hope to augment that by doing something proactive, bringing together our partners and offering this service to make Alexandria a nice, safe place to be."

West Central Narcotics Task Force used funding from forfeited assets to buy the drop box, and, along with APD, partnered with local companies Pro-Tainer, Inc. and Winning Edge Graphics to construct and label the box.

In addition, law enforcement has partnered with the local incinerator plant Pope Douglas Solid Waste Management to ultimately dispose of the drugs. Police officers will take drugs from the box to the incinerator where the drugs will be weighed and documented. From there, an officer will watch while the drugs are burned.

This drop site is not intended for illegal drugs like methamphetamine or heroin. Still, for anyone who may be leary about bringing their prescription medication into the police department, Wyffels advised, "Don't be fearful. Use the service that's available. You don't have to sign in, you don't have to give your name, you don't have to say, 'I have this kind of a drug to put in there.' Don't be intimidated and if you are, for whatever reason, give it to someone that you can trust to take it to the police department."

Shaynen Schmidt of Pro-Tainer was also at Wednesday's news conference and said, "We're excited to get involved in this. It's a great deal for us to be part of."

Prior to the addition of the new local drop box, an annual prescription drug drop-off event was hosted by the Drug Enforcement Administration at law enforcement agencies across the state.

Wyffels said it's a benefit for a community like Alexandria to have a permanent drug disposal program in place.

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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