By Paula Katinas
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The NYPD's 68th Precinct in Bay Ridge is offering local residents a chance to get rid of their unused, expired or illegally obtained prescription pills – no questions asked.
Under a new program that began May 12, a permanent prescription drop box was placed in the precinct station house at 333 65th St.
“This is a program that is being spearheaded by the Brooklyn District Attorney's Office and the NYPD (68th Precinct) to help prevent prescription drug abuse. Special thanks must go Community Board 10's Anti-Drug Task Force for their hard work on this venture,” a statement from the precinct read.
Community Board 10 established the anti-drug task force last year to look into the causes and prevention of drug addiction. The impetus for the formation of the task force was a series of drug overdose deaths of several young people in Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights over the past few years. The community board covers Bay Ridge and Dyker Heights.
It was the community board that suggested a prescription drug drop box be placed in the precinct, according to Josephine Beckmann, the board’s district manager. The board originally requested that the Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s office set up a drop off box in the board’s office at 8119 Fifth Ave. “But we were told that wouldn’t be possible because we would need security measures to be in place,” Beckmann told the Brooklyn Eagle.
That’s when the cops stepped in to help. Capt. Raymond Festino, the 68th Precinct commander, was at a task force meeting at the board’s office when the topic came up again. He was asked if he would be willing to have the station house be a drop off point and he readily agreed.
Anyone interested in dropping off prescription drugs can go to the front desk at the 65th Street station house and inquire about the drop off box. A police officer will direct them to the box, which is kept in a safe location within the building.
“I think it’s a great program,” Beckmann told the Eagle. “We’re asking everyone to clean out their cabinets and bring the prescription medications to the precinct.”
It could prevent another overdose, Beckmann said. She noted that the task force’s investigation uncovered disturbing information. “We learned that drug addiction often begins at home with a young person going through the medicine cabinet and taking pills belonging to other family members,” she said.
This isn’t the first time the 68th Precinct has served as a drop off point for drugs. The station house was also part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 26. The Drug Take-Back Day is an effort by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to encourage residents to bring their outdated medications to a safe place, instead of putting them in the trash or flushing them down the toilet. The precinct was one of several drop off points located throughout Brooklyn that day.
The drug “take back” event has been held each year for the past eight years and is proving to be extremely popular around the country, according to the DEA. There was a 50 percent jump in the number of pills the agency collected between 2011 and 2102.