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LI police participate in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day

Southampton Police Lt. Michael Zarro accepted unused drugs

Southampton Police Lt. Michael Zarro accepted unused drugs Saturday at the Hampton Bays Community Center. Credit: Veronique Louis

Police agencies from around Long Island took part Saturday in a national program dedicated to protecting seniors, youths and local waters by taking back expired and unused prescription drugs.

In Suffolk County, communities from West Babylon and Huntington to Hauppauge, Southampton, Patchogue and Shirley took part in National Prescription Drug Take Back Day, where people can safely dispose of their unwanted prescription medications via collection sites, some hosted by local law enforcement agencies.

“We want to be able to keep these drugs from falling into the wrong hands,” Southampton Police Lt. Michael Zarro said at the Hampton Bays Community Center on Saturday.

While rainy weather initially created a slow start for collection — Zarro said he had seen only one person drop off prescription drugs before noon at the Hampton Bays site — Southampton Police Property and Evidence Officer Theresa Tedesco, who coordinated Southampton’s take-back program, said police had collected 96 pounds of prescription drugs at all three of their sites by the end of the day. That was 40 pounds more than they collected in October 2017’s take-back event.

Between the October take-back event and another held every year in April, Southampton police — participating in the event for the third year — have collected between 250 pounds and 300 pounds of medication annually, a number that has steadily grown from when the department first participated in the event in 2016, Tedesco said.

More than 90 residents dropped off prescription drugs at drop-off points in Nassau County, Nassau officials said Saturday.

“As important as this day is, the Nassau County Police Department urges its residents to turn in unwanted drugs to any police precinct any day they wish as this program is available every day, 24/7,” Nassau County Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said. “The more drugs we remove from our homes, the more lives we will save.”

The collection event also helps police departments raise awareness for Operation Medicine Cabinet, a program that allows residents to anonymously drop off unwanted medications at any time at receptacles inside each of Suffolk’s seven police precincts. Nearly 50,000 pounds of unused and expired drugs and medications have been turned in to the Suffolk County Police Department since the inception of Operation Medicine Cabinet, according to Suffolk County officials. 

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