TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The community came together for a festive affair Aug. 6 at the Placer County Sheriff Tahoe station to celebrate a permanent safe disposal Rx drop box and National Night Out.
Grilled hot dogs, cake, and kiddie carnival games with comic books, sheriff badges and pint-sized frisbee-type disc swag were a prelude to the main event: Dunk-A-Cop.
First in the tank was Placer County Area 5 Supervisor Jennifer Montgomery. After a few fast and furious falls into the cold water tank, she popped out.
National Night Out, held the first Tuesday of August, is an evening of community members and organizations gathering to promote involvement in crime prevention activities. Montgomery said although the Tahoe-Truckee area is not noted for a tremendous amount of crime, there are many home and vehicle break-ins thefts that occur, especially in high tourist season.
“There are very simple steps to protect your valuables, house and family,” she said. Mainly, lock up.
Combining National Night Out with the drop box event was a natural. The abuse of prescription drugs increases exponentially each year. While working at the CVS pharmacy, Tahoe Truckee’s Future Without Drug Dependence’s Donna Ferrell noted she was filling, every morning, prescriptions for anti-depressants, pain medication and sleep aids.
“That says we’ve got big problems — people are looking for a quick fix,” Ferrell opined. After 30 years as a pharmacist, Ferrell will now attend seminary college.
“It’s a mess people get themselves into, she said.”
In reference to drug addiction, Ferrell noted the positive change that can be wrought though spirituality and the ability to forgive oneself and others. “There’s hope, there’s always hope,” said Ferrell.
PCS Lt. Alredo Guitron hopes awareness and safe disposal will keep the kids out of the candy jar. It’s a popular party game for teens to take pills from parents or family members, dump them in a bowl, and grab a few. It’s a felony to possess narcotics without a prescription, but even more dangerous are the potential repercussions: liver damage, passing out and suffering rape, or the unimaginable overdose.
“They take them for a fun thing, to feel a little funny, but they don’t know what these drugs do,” said Guitron. A combination of drugs with alcohol is a particularly dangerous mix.
Guitron hopes getting the sheriffs out in the community and the drugs secured or disposed of will tamp down the problem.
PCS Capt. Jeff Ausnow concurs. He spent a good amount of time splashing down in the dunk tank, to the delight of children, fellow officers, and community dignitaries. Taunting the crowd good-naturedly until his teeth chattered, Ausnow said if it takes sitting in a dunk tank to bring people together in frolic and awareness, it’s worth it.
“It’s great to see the turnout,” he enthused. “It’s a great cause, prescription drugs are so widely abused.”
PCS Lt. John Weaver was instrumental in securing the Placer County Sheriff Tahoe station drop box. It took much researching the legal liability and cost, but it is now available to the public.
The permanent safe disposal drop box is located at 2501 North Lake Blvd. in Tahoe City, accessible 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Take your prescription and over-the-counter drugs only: no illegal drugs, sharps or aerosols.
The Truckee Police Department, 10183 Truckee Airport Road, will have a second permanent Rx drug bin ready for the public on Sept. 3, 2013, open 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
During the Rx Take Back Day events held April 28, 2012 in both Tahoe City and Truckee, volunteers, with the help of local law enforcement, collected more than 353 pounds of potentially dangerous expired, unused and unwanted prescription and over-the-counter drugs.For a Facebook photos gallery of the event, click here.
Read a previous article about how prescription drug abuse effected one young life, “Dangers of prescription drug use, abuse are real — but preventable,” here.