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Gates Police Will Pick Up Unused Medication from Citizens' Homes

In Gates, New York, local police are so intent on getting opioids off of their streets that they will literally make house calls to come get your leftovers. Chief James VanBrederode expressed frustration on behalf of all law enforcement with the opioid epidemic and how it just doesn't seem to be getting any better. Says VanBrederode: “It just doesn’t seem to end. We’re like in year four of this thing and people are still dying.”

So, in an innovative measure to take the extra drugs off of the streets and remove any possibility of people being tempted to consume that which they don't need, Gates police have established their local pick-up program. Gates residents who wish to get rid of their unused opioids can dial 9-1-1, and an officer will be sent to their homes to collect the meds. It is not recommended that the unused meds be thrown out or flushed, as they can potentially end up in the water supply or, in the case of being thrown out, even potentially end up in the wrong hands if found by garbage pickers.

VanBrederode said that law enforcement must be vigilant and "attack this from all [angles]", that they need to do everything they can to "[get this] stuff out of people's homes." The Gates police department, along with several others, also participates in the National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, which occurs bi-annually. On this day, all kinds of medications – not just opioids – are collected in an event sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice Drug Enforcement Administration.

Gates also, in addition to other departments, has a prescription drop-off box located at the town hall. However, VanBrederode believes the pick-up service will be more effective because: “You think, ‘next time I go to town hall, I’ll bring [the drugs with me]. [But] the next time you go to town hall, you forget.” With the pick-up service, there's no forgetting. You simply call 9-1-1, your leftover drugs are picked up, and that's it. You don't even have to leave your home to dispose of the potentially deadly medication.

VanBrederode compared this new pick-up program to that which is conducted by police departments in attempts to collect unwanted firearms. He believes the message here is clear: if the police will spare their very important time to come to your house and dispose of your drugs, then that is a "huge red flag that this stuff is no good. Especially if it’s lying around. If you’re done with it, just get rid of it. There’s no temptation for anyone to take it from you.”

Brighton Police Chief Mark Henderson reported having a successful drop box since its implementation in or around 2010. He stated that if a resident calls the department with a concern, then an officer will be dispatched to the resident's home on a house call. Henderson added that the Brighton police will also work with nursing homes to help them dispose of any unwanted and/or unused medication before it can potentially end up in the wrong hands.