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Hyde Park approves drug ‘take back’ program for rX disposal

February 11th, 2010 Posted in Opinion

By Kayla Harding

HYDE PARK–Wednesday evening’s City Council meeting brought another round of discussion on the proposed drug “lock box” to be placed on the property of the city building. By the end of the discussion the council voted 4-1 to implement the Drug Take Back Program for the city of Hyde Park. Council members Robert Christensen, Carol Johnson, Charles Wheeler and Brent Kelly voted for and Mark Hurd voted against the resolution.

“I personally don’t believe it is the business of Hyde Park city to be managing pharmaceuticals,” Hurd said.

The discussion began with Mayor Bryan Cox asking if anyone had noticed the new forest green addition to the city building’s lobby. The arrival of the drug lockbox went unnoticed by many.

Sergeant John Italasano of North Park Police Department read a letter he wrote to answer remaining questions from when the issue was presented to the council in January. He referred to the program as the Drug Take Back program, and announced that the original grant for $1,000 has been increased to $2,000 to allow placement of two boxes, one at the Hyde Park city building and one at the North Logan city building, instead of only one.

“At the present time there is nowhere in Cache County to properly dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs,” Italasano said. The police department is facing is an increasing number of incidents where drugs are being taken out of homes by juveniles looking through medicine cabinets of parents, grandparents and friend’s parents, and then the drugs are being ingested.

Both Cox and Italasano said they had contacted multiple pharmacies in the valley and none accepted unused or expired prescription drugs.

“I was first told that it was illegal for pharmacies to take back these drugs of this nature, and that even if it was allowed by law they did not have a disposal program where the drugs could properly be disposed of,” Italasano said,

The boxes would be bolted to the wall and floor and signs would prominently display that the box is under video surveillance and emptied daily, Italasano said.

Councilman Mark Hurd supports the need for the drug lockbox but is not in support of placing it at the city building.

“I am wondering how come we aren’t pursuing the idea of having this placed at the police department, as it appears the other cities have done,” Hurd said.

Italasano said other places such as Brigham City, Herriman, Layton, North Ogden and Weber County have reported no incidents of vandalism, threats or theft because the boxes are located at buildings that are secure after regular business hours or have video surveillance. These buildings are also not city halls, but police buildings.

Italasano said the lobby of the NPPD is not a secure place afterhours for the drug lockbox. The police department is in the basement of the North Logan City Fire Hall. The lobby remains unlocked 24 hours a day and no video surveillance is in that area. Access to the fire department and the police department is controlled by a keypad lock.

Hurd said, “I don’t think it’s a question of if this program is supported, or would work, or what have you; I disagree with the placement of it in the civic center. An example would be, we rent this facility out for people to use for various activities and by having it here we are having a risk that wouldn’t be here otherwise.”

Hurd said he had spoken with the landfill manager, and his instruction was to crush up the unneeded prescription drugs and throw them in the garbage.

“I’m thinking that I don’t know that we need to be spending money on something that’s already available to us,” Hurd said.

Mayor Cox presented information that the DEA is in support of the Drug Take Back program, as well as the Department of Environmental Quality who provided the grant money for the boxes so the drugs don’t pose a threat to the environment through disposal other than incineration.

The incineration process is still a concern for NPPD. After the drugs are collected daily from the city building they will be taken to the evidence room at NPPD. The drugs will then be taken to the USU Police Department to be incinerated if USU police allow. The incineration must be observed by a police officer.

The incineration process, said Italasano, must be hot enough to prevent a hazardous output. If USU police do not allow North Park police to use their incinerator, or their incinerator does not burn hot enough, Italasano said the drugs can be taken to Layton where their incinerator is certified by the EPA and DEA.

The more the council deliberated, the more placing the box outside of the building became an idea that gained consideration. If placed outside the building, the box would be bolted to the ground and under surveillance as originally planned. Italasano said the public would be told to only place unneeded prescription drugs in the lock boxes.

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