By Charly SHELTON
The anonymous drop off boxes for unwanted and expired drugs which, until recently, had been in front of Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. stations, have been removed as the program goes through a shift in policy.
“The original goal was for citizens to bring in discarded or expired medications and unwanted drugs. We found that some businesses were also utilizing the program to dispose of their bulk property drugs, and that in and of itself overburdened the system,” said Crescenta Valley Station Watch Commander Mark Slater. “So [because of] that, combined with some health and safety type issues of deputies handling the drugs, the sheriff decided that it was better to revamp the program and have more direct supervision.”
In addition to businesses utilizing the boxes, there have been some pretty shocking things found in boxes all over the county, said Lt. Mark Reyes of the LASD Narcotics Bureau.
“We needed to change the way we did business because of a Cal/OSHA complaint and because the old way we did business allowed for unsupervised drop offs. People were throwing colostomy bags in there, syringes, feces, even a handgun at one point because we weren’t monitoring what was going into those boxes,” Lt. Reyes said. “So we changed it to be a monitored program where [participants are] not going to be able to throw a colostomy bag or syringe in there. This is for the safety of personnel.”
The decision was made in September to do away with the unsupervised box drop offs and switch to a more hands-on approach with a monitored program. The drug boxes were removed the first week of November, but the sharps deposit boxes will remain. The upcoming monitored program entails a monthly drug take back day at each station where the public can come to discard their unwanted and expired drugs with a no-questions-asked policy for whatever drugs may come in. The drugs will then be stored, collected and destroyed in bulk quarterly.
“Each station will be responsible for [its own take back event]; the narcotics division is no longer responsible for it. Each station individually will set their take back event day once a month and put it on their station website to let the public know and they will supervise what’s going into those boxes,” Lt. Reyes said.
For anyone who may still need to drop off drugs and cannot make it to the monthly event, over 300 Walgreens’ locations offer safe drug drop off kiosks, and the Drug Enforcement Agency also hosts take back days twice yearly.
“If somebody wants to do it any day of the week, if they’re savvy enough, they can look and there is somewhere to [drop off] the drugs. We are only opening for this once a month at each station,” Lt. Reyes said.
As details are finalized for the upcoming take back day event, they will be publicized by the CV Sheriff’s Station and listed on its website at crescentavalley.lasd.org.
“We’re just hoping to make it a better environment for both the department employees and the citizens to discard the medication,” Slater said.