Talk about a big response! Last week we put a call out for everyone in Mesa County to drop off their unused, expired, and otherwise unwanted prescription drugs during the first ever National Prescription Drug Take Back Day. Not only did the community respond to this new program, you and your neighbors responded in a big way. More than two hundred pounds of prescription drugs will now be disposed of in a safe way and won’t be lying around in medicine cabinets where children or drug abusers can get their hands on them, or flushed down the toilet where they would enter our water systems. Just at the Police Department alone we collected 138 pounds of that grand total.
It was interesting to watch and listen to the people who came by to drop off their unwanted medications at the Police Department. For the four hours we were open for collections we had a fairly steady stream of folks coming by, often with grocery bags full of prescriptions to get rid of. For the most part, they were some of our more seasoned residents, but not all. What struck me the most was that even though this was supposed to be an anonymous, no questions asked way for people to clean out their medicine cabinets, most of the people who came by seemed to want to give us at least some information. Several of the people appeared a bit surprised when we didn’t ask for their names or what kinds of medication they were dropping off. “That’s it?” was a common phrase that morning when they handed the officer their bag and he simply said “Thank you.”
I can’t help but imagine what stories there are behind each and every one of those who came by. I chuckled when one of the ladies, who dropped of a significantly sized bag of medications, walked up to the counter, smiled, and said “Hello, just so you know I’m not a drug dealer.” The officer chuckled too, and reassured her he didn’t think she was. The lady then began to share a story about her husband who had recently passed and how he had to take a lot of medications during the end of his life. She didn’t go into a lot of detail, but you could tell she had a lot of memories to share.
There were other folks like her, and although we weren’t able to sit and talk with each and every one, we were glad we could at least provide a small service for them. I heard several people say, “I’ve had these around for years and just didn’t know what to do with them.” Nearly everybody said “thanks for doing this, it’s a great service.” We too say thank you. Thanks for taking the extra step and the time out of your day to do something that will help keep these old medications out of the wrong hands.
You may have caught some of the news coverage lately regarding our decision to move out of the substation at the mall. It’s a decision that took some time to make. Since 2002 we have had that storefront location which gave the public easy access to officers who could answer their questions and provide them with information. Despite the images of “Paul Blart- Mall Cop” that some of that media coverage painted, the officers assigned to the substation are not in charge of security for the mall. That’s handled by a private company. Rather they are either part of our Community Advocacy Program (CAP) or School Resource Officers (SRO). We also have an administrative assistant and a number of volunteers who work out of the mall substation.
CAP officers are essentially community liaisons. The officers address specific concerns from neighborhoods and work to educate the public on various safety and crime prevention issues. They are in charge of a number of programs including Neighborhood Watch, Crime Free Multi-housing and Crime Free Hotels, National Night Out, and Crime Stoppers. All of these are very effective tools in teaching the public how to keep crime out and how not to be a victim, which is why the Community Advocacy Program is not going away. Yes, some of the CAP officers have been reassigned to patrol the streets because of some vacancies we currently have, but the officers who are still assigned to this unit will continue to work directly with our community and teach you how to stay safe, they’ll just be doing it from the main police station downtown.
Our SROs haven’t gone away either, they just don’t have a desk at the mall anymore. Thanks to our partnership with School District 51 we’ve been able to find them desks in the schools the SROs are assigned to.
So why close this substation you ask? There are a few reasons. First, we just haven’t been seeing the interest from the public that we used to. Fewer and fewer people are choosing to stop by the substation for information. We also have fewer officers using that space since we’ve moved some of them to patrol the streets. We also pay approximately $9,000 a year for utilities and cleaning fees just for the substation. Combine those factors and it simply doesn’t make sense to keep it open, especially in tight budget times, not to mention it really isn’t fair to the mall to take up space that isn’t being fully staffed.
Closing the substation won’t happen immediately. In talking with the folks at the mall, we agree that having a few officers there during the busy holiday shopping season would be a good idea. The plan is to move the remaining officers to the main police department at the end of the year. We’re grateful for the partnership we’ve had with the mall over the last 8 years, which allowed us to use the space rent free, and we will continue to provide them, and all of our community with the same professional service you have come to expect.
Clean out your medicine cabinet and get rid of your unwanted, unneeded, outdated, or just plain useless prescription drugs THE SAFE WAY. This Saturday, September 25, the Grand Junction Police Department is taking part in the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day. From 10 am to 2 pm you can drop off unused, expired medications with absolutely no questions asked. There are several locations throughout the Grand Valley, including the GJPD at the corner of 6th St. and Ute Ave.
There’s a good reason we’re doing this. Having a bunch of prescription medications lying around people’s homes is a leading cause of accidental poisoning, overdose, and abuse. In fact, some pharmaceutical drugs taken without a doctor’s prescription are just as dangerous as taking illicit drugs. Here are some stats for you:
- According to the 2008 National Survey on Drug Use and Health the non-medical use of prescription drugs ranks second only to marijuana as the most prevalent category of drug abuse in the U.S.
- That same survey found more Americans currently abuse prescription drugs than the number of those abusing cocaine, hallucinogens, and heroin combined.
- The 2009 Monitoring the Future Survey found one in ten 12th graders use the narcotic Vicodin for non-medical purposes.
- The 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Survey showed the majority of teenagers using prescription drugs got them from family and friends, including from their home medicine cabinets.
The best part about this program is you don’t have to pay anything to participate. Simply stop in at a participating location, put your unwanted medications in the box, and walk out. You’re done. There are some things we cannot accept. See a full list of those items and the complete list of participating locations here.
You’ve likely heard it said a million times, “Communication is key.” That is something the Grand Junction Police Department truly believes in. Whether it be in the middle of a critical incident we are dealing with, or in the middle of a critical issue facing our community, good communication is the key to having an effective police department that truly serves you and our great city. That is why the GJPD is launching itself into the world of social media. Our goal is to give you firsthand information and updates on the things we think are important for you to know, as well as the things we think you’ll be curious about. You’ll have the opportunity to learn about some of the inner workings of this department and get a chance to hear about the many activities we’re involved with that don’t get covered in the news.
This also gives us a chance to hear directly from you. We look forward to reading your comments, hearing your concerns, and learning about the things that interest you as well. This is a two-way street and one more tool to keeping us in touch with you.