Vinton Police Lt. Glenn Austin was on hand to welcome Roanoke County Sheriff Eric Orange and his deputies as they delivered and installed Vinton’s Drug Take-Back Box at the Vinton Police Department on April 19. The box is located in the lobby just outside the police department on the lower level of the Vinton Municipal Building in downtown Vinton.
Lt. Austin said the Drug Take-Back Box will be accessible during office hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Entry is from the parking lot at the rear entrance.
The Drug Take-Back Box is the result of a partnership between the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office and the Vinton Police Department. It was built by students at the Burton Center for Arts and Technology (BCAT) under the supervision of welding instructor Chris Overfelt. His students designed and fabricated the solid steel box, which is made of quarter-inch steel, bolted to the floor internally, with dual locks that require two people to open.
Three William Byrd students were part of the project: Ryan Lyles, Zach Bush, and Noah Brown.
This is the second box the students at Burton have built. The first one was placed in the Roanoke County Sheriff’s Office in Salem almost two years ago. Records show it is filled to capacity approximately every six weeks.
Sheriff Orange said his deputies will monitor and maintain the Vinton box and pick up the contents for disposal periodically as needed.
Sheriff Orange said the purpose of the Drug Take-Back Box is to provide safe and convenient disposal of prescription drugs, especially during this time of a raging opioid crisis across the country. The Drug Take Back program also has significant environmental impact when improperly disposed of medications do not enter the water system directly or even indirectly through landfills.
Medications may be deposited in the box in their original container. No needles or syringes are permitted.
Chief Deputy Steve Turner, Deputy Chad Beheler, and Sgt. Richard Schack accompanied Sheriff Orange to Vinton for installation of the new box. Turner recommended that the Vinton police contact funeral homes and pharmacies in the area to let them know the service is now available close to home. Families often find after a death in the family that there are medications to be disposed of.
On February 7, local, state, and federal law enforcement representatives joined together with the Prevention Council at a press conference at BCAT calling on local pharmacies to join them in “a broad-based, 26-county, grassroots campaign to help keep legally prescribed medications off the streets, out of the water supply, and out of schools.”
The 26-county area includes local counties and also extends from Highland County in the north, to Grayson County in southwestern Virginia, and to Henry County in the southeastern part of the state.
The drop box project is led by the Prevention Council of Roanoke County, along with law enforcement agencies.
The law enforcement community says that keeping prescription medications off the streets is of “paramount importance.” Medications in the home are vulnerable to being stolen by anyone who has access to those areas, including children, their friends, relatives, neighbors, housekeepers, and contractors.
The need for these drop boxes has been clearly demonstrated by the amount of medications collected during twice-yearly National Prescription Drug Take Back Days facilitated by local law enforcement agencies, including ones at the Vinton and Bonsack Kroger stores.
Vinton Deputy Police Chief Captain Fabricio Drumond said, “Vinton, along with our neighboring agencies, has had tremendous success in the twice-yearly Drug Take-Back Program; this program will work in conjunction with it.”
On the Drug Take Back Day in October 2017, approximately 2.75 tons of medications were collected in the same 26-county area.
Local data collected indicates that up to 71 percent of prescribed pills go unused; up to 92 percent of patients have unused opioids after surgery; 90 percent fail to dispose of leftover medications properly; 14 percent of patients who fill prescriptions do not take any of the pills; and 77 percent report their opioids are not stored in locked containers.
The next Drug Take Back Day is scheduled for Saturday, April 28 at locations that include the Hardy Road Kroger in Vinton.