University Police Department takes part in "National Take-Back Initiative"

Lakeidra Chavis/Sun Star Reporter
Oct. 22, 2013

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Police Department is accepting prescription drugs until Saturday, October 26. The UAFPD is participating in the Drug Enforcement Administration’s “National Take-Back Initiative,” a nation-wide effort to get prescription drugs that are unused or expired off the street so they are not used in harmful ways. The efforts will help prevent illegal drug sales or drugs ending up in the water supply.

“[It’s] sort of an amnesty type of thing,” said UAFPD Investigator Steve Goetz.

Although “National Take-Back Initiative” is a one-day event on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Goetz wants to give people more time to turn in their prescription drugs, acknowledging that people on campus have busy schedules, so they will be accepting drugs until the event ends on Oct. 26.

Premiering in 2010, the event,”aims to provide a safe, convenient, and responsible means of disposing of prescription drugs, while also educating the general public about the potential for abuse of medications,” according to the the DEA’s Office of Diversion Control’s website.

The event is open to students and non-students. If people want to turn in their drugs on campus, they can stop by the Police Department located on Yukon Drive across the street from the Wood Center. People who participate will remain anonymous.

There were 28 drug violations on campus in 2012, according to the UAF Crime and Fire report released at the beginning of the fall semester in compliance with the Clery Act. This number is higher than the two previous years by approximately 50 percent.

Drug violations include, “the violation of state laws prohibiting the production, possession, sale, use, growth, manufacturing and making of any controlled drug or narcotic substance,” according to the UAFPD website. Possession of less than half a pound of marijuana is not included in the reports because the possession does not violate state law.

Most of the drugs that people turn-in during the event are oxycodone-based drugs, such as the prescription pain-killer OxyContin, according to Goetz,

In 2008, more people died from prescription drug overdoses in America than cocaine and heroin overdoses combined, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Minorities and women are at a higher risk to die from prescription painkiller overdoses.

In late April, 742, 497 pounds of prescription drugs were turned in across the nation, 50 percent more than last year, according to a May 2 DEA press release.

A lot of people participate in the event and by the end of the day, the department has large trash bags full of prescription drugs, Goetz said. If people want to turn in their prescription drugs but do not want to go into the station, someone from the department can meet the person outside.

The UPD isn’t the only department participating in the initiative. The Fairbanks, Fort Wainwright and North Pole Police Departments are participating, as well as the Alaska State Troopers who have drop-off stations at their department and at the Fred Meyer on Airport Way.

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