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GRCC installs SafeMeds drop off box to dispose of unwanted or unused medications

The SafeMeds drop box outside of the GRCCPD on July 25, 2015. (Karl Blessing/The Collegiate)

The Grand Rapids Community College Police Department is the latest location in the city to add a drop box to safely dispose of unused or unwanted medications.

The installation is part of Kent County’s SafeMeds program designed to encourage the community to properly dispose of medications at designated locations throughout the neighborhood. The box sits in the entryway of the GRCCPD, 25 Lyons St. NE, and can be accessed during police office hours.

GRCCPD Lieutenant Robert Decker is encouraged by the success the program has had in other police departments.

“A number of departments have (the drop boxes) in their lobby, in their drop area, and it’s been a super positive program for a number of these municipalities for a number of years,” he said. “We just thought we’d get on board. Being centrally located in the city here, and we’ve already had something dropped off already. So, it’s working.”

Discarding the medication is anonymous with the intention of taking them off the street without legal backlash to those who dispose of them.

“There’s no legality, you know, we’re not asked who they are,” Decker said. “It’s based on anonymity. We’re not (looking) to charge somebody criminally who shouldn’t have (medications). It’s just a matter of taking care of business here and making sure they get disposed of properly and legally.”

The drop box is similar to a post office box in that it is a one-way type of container and is secured to ensure it is not tampered with.

“You can’t reach in regardless of how pliable one may be with their arms, or whatever the case may be, or with a tool be able to reach in or take anything out of there,” Decker said.

Decker said it is important to dispose of the medications properly given the recent surge in opioid overdoses in the United States.

“Fortunately, we haven’t had anything on campus while the officers are working, or at least in the past year, as far as any type of drug related response,” Decker said. “But this has been proven because of the saturation of the opioid crisis that when people, regardless of who they are, can remain anonymous.”

Two officers are in charge of properly disposing the medications once the box has been filled by sending them to the incinerator in Grand Rapids.

Decker said the drop boxes are beneficial to the community, because in some cases, the person dropping off the medication is not the person who uses them.  

“If someone else does not have access to these (boxes), you just never know what situation you may have eliminated,” he said.