Local law enforcement will participate this Saturday in National Take Back Day, calling upon community members to turn over unneeded prescription medications so they can be disposed of safely.
Both the Fort Smith and Greenwood police departments are participating in the nationwide effort sponsored by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
"This event is to rid the community of any unwanted, unused or expired drugs with no questions asked," a news release issued by the Greenwood Police Department states.
Greenwood police will be on-hand at the Greenwood Walmart, 551 Liberty Drive, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. to collect unwanted, unused and expired drugs with no questions asked.
Fort Smith police will be taking back prescription pills from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the front door of the Fort Smith Police Department.
"They can drive through the front awning of the Police Department if they don’t want to get out of their car," said Cpl. Paul Smith of Fort Smith police.
Take Back Day, Smith said, helps curb juvenile prescription drug abuse.
"Getting the unwanted, unused and expired drugs out of the home (lessens) the chance that kids will either experiment or use those substances," he said. "Most of the kids get their prescription medications from the home. They’re either stealing it or taking (pills) from the medicine cabinet. Nine times out of 10, the parents have forgotten about that prescription and don’t even know it’s missing."
This will be the eighth Take Back Day Fort Smith police will participate in. For this Saturday’s Take Back, they are collaborating with the River Valley Regional Food Bank by also collecting canned food at the Police Department during the Take Back hours, according to Smith.
The Police Department has seen a strong response from its residents during past Take Back days.
"We average about 70 pounds at the Fort Smith Police Department each time we’ve done it," Smith said. "We usually fill at least one 55 gallon trash can with pills and sometimes two."
All collected pills will be transported to Little Rock and then taken to a facility in Alabama where they will be disposed of properly.
Disposing of such pills in your trash or toilet is discouraged, according to Smith.
"First, you have criminals that go through people’s trash and all your information is on that prescription bottle," he said. "Second, you don’t want to dump them down the toilet because they could become a hazard to the ecosystem and all the animals within in it. So it’s better to properly dispose of it."