Pill roundup tops expectations
An older couple walking by a fire near the police station Saturday smelled marijuana.
“Hey, I know what that is. What are you guys doing?” the man asked three lawmen tending the fire.
“We’re having a pot roast,” they responded.
In the spirit of ridding Haines of drugs, Interim Haines Borough Police Chief Simon Ford, officer Adam Patterson and wildlife trooper Ken VanSpronsen burned three paper garbage bags full of marijuana Saturday afternoon.
The Haines Borough Police Department also collected more than 40 pounds of pills, patches and miscellaneous medicine during a day-long drug roundup, far exceeding Ford’s expectations.
Narcotics including Percocet, OxyContin and hydrocodone poured in, as did over-the-counter sleep aids, cough syrups and other non-narcotic prescriptions. The collected drugs will be sent to Portland, Ore ., where they will be incinerated, Ford said.
In Juneau, 167 pounds of prescription drugs were turned in. “I thought, ratio-wise, that was a really good turnout,” Ford said.
While other departments participating in the round-up program also advertised the acceptance of illegal drugs, Haines didn’t receive anything of that nature. “We didn’t get any baggies of powder; just lots and lots of pills,” Ford said.
Saturday marked the first time Haines participated in the national prescription round-up program. The department’s involvement this year was mainly due to happenstance, Ford said.
After the Sept. 9 death of local dentist Dr. Patrick Smalley, Ford was concerned the pharmaceuticals at Smalley’s Main Street office would be up for grabs if they went unguarded. So, he confiscated them. When he researched how to properly dispose of the meds, he became aware of the national round-up day, which was right around the corner.
“So this was kind of an opportunistic thing, but it’s really exciting,” he said.
Two boxes were placed at the police department – one inside, one outside – and an officer either manned them in person or via camera at all times “to make sure people were only making deposits, not withdrawals.”
The marijuana had accumulated in the department’s evidence room, the result of years of confiscations by the department, Ford said.