Pols push to install drug boxes in police precincts
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan and Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis, who started an initiative on Staten Island two years ago that allows residents to drop off their old prescription drugs at police precincts, are now trying to expand their give-back program citywide.
In 2014, Donovan, who was the Staten Island district attorney at the time, and Malliotakis teamed up to purchase prescription drug drop boxes for each of Staten Island’s police precincts.
The lawmakers announced that Staten Island residents could drop off prescription drugs at any precinct in the borough at any time, no questions asked.
Donovan’s Congressional District covers all of Staten Island and includes parts of Southwest Brooklyn. Malliotakis represents parts of Bay Ridge and Staten Island.
Donovan and Malliotakis are calling on the NYPD to install drug give back boxes in all precincts.
The goal is to get the drugs out of medicine cabinets, where family members and friends could take them and possibly become addicted to the pills, the two lawmakers said.
Since the boxes were installed on Staten Island, tens of thousands of pills have been safely deposited, keeping them off the streets, Donovan said.
Getting rid of the pills in a safe manner is important because prescription drug abuse often leads to heroin addiction, according to Donovan and Malliotakis, who both cited a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control which found that people who are dependent on prescription painkillers are 40 times more likely to abuse heroin.
“Too many parents have buried their sons or daughters. It’s time for a concerted push from every level of government to take back our children’s futures. Staten Island’s drop box program has been an enormous success. I hope the NYPD can quickly act on this common-sense solution,” Donovan said in a statement.
“The prescription drug drop box program has proven to be a successful tool in the ongoing war against drug addiction in our community. It's an easy, no-questions-asked way to safely remove prescription drugs from medicine cabinets and out of the reach of those who might abuse them,” Malliotkais stated.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) sponsors an annual drug take-back day across the country.
But Malliotakis said that a one-day event is not enough. “Expanding the drop-off program citywide will ensure that more highly addictive opioids can be taken off the streets 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said.
Donovan and Malliotakis have also teamed up with another Staten Island lawmaker, Councilmember Joseph Borelli, to launch a push for a comprehensive federal response to the opioid and heroin abuse epidemic.
The three elected officials are seeking to rally support for the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, legislation that would authorize grants for local anti-drug education, treatment and enforcement programs.
“As our community’s crisis has turned into a nationwide epidemic, it’s clear the federal government’s response hasn’t been enough. Congress must act to provide the resources necessary to turn the tide against addiction,” Donovan said.