Published Fri, Jan 4, 2013 2:27 pm Dateline
One Southeast Ohio sheriff is calling a drug drop box program a success in his county after collecting more than 90 pounds of pills in just two months.
Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless says that number tops any amount collected during his office's usual one-day drop off efforts.
"Back in the fall, when we did our last prescription drug collection, I think we collected around 40 pounds and that was in a one-day period where we advertised it pretty well. So to collect this amount was extremely big to me, I thought," said Lawless.
The box is part of a program through the Ohio Attorney General's Office and the Drug-Free Action Alliance.
The Lawrence County box was installed in early November. Lawless says the box is doing more than just holding old prescriptions: it's keeping residents safe.
"Having that ability will keep drugs out of our homes, which sometimes makes people a target. If the criminal element knows that you have drugs in your home, you could be a target of someone wanting to break in to get those drugs. So, this gives you a means of getting them out of your home and disposing them properly," said Lawless.
The collection system has environmental benefits, according to Lawless.
He says statistics show traces of prescription drugs are showing up in waterways as a result of improper disposal, such as flushing medications down the toilet.
The prescription drop box is located in the sheriff's office lobby and pills can be dropped off any time day or night.
Lawless says that arrangement saves his office money because he doesn't have to staff an officer to serve as a pill collector.
Many law enforcement agencies are seeing increased cases of prescription drug abuse and Lawrence County is no different, says Lawless.
"It's unbelievable the amount of prescription drug problems we have," he said.
Lawless says the county is part of a drug pipeline route that runs between Detroit and West Virginia.
Agencies participating in the drug drop box program are required to report their findings by mid-January.
There are 66 boxes statewide.
Lawless says he hasn't yet talked with his fellow sheriffs about their experiences, but he's pleased so far.