However, last week, Foundation founder Lance Dyer began to see a physical manifestation of all the hard work he and his supporters have been doing. During the last two weeks of June, Dyer and others spent their time delivering repurposed mail boxes to several area police departments, including Bremen, Buchanan, Villa Rica, Tallapoosa, and the Haralson County Sheriff’s Office.
“Mr. Dyer has reached out to us with a great program,” said Bremen Police Chief Kieth Pesnell. “We encourage everyone to bring their unused pills or any other drugs and drop them off.”
The Foundation has three goals: to educate young people about drugs and suicide, to work with corporations and legislators to ban synthetic drugs, and to start a scholarship for a Bremen student who does something in their community to raise awareness about drugs and suicide.
The idea behind the mail box program is for area residents to have a place to bring their expired or left over prescription drugs. Dyer says the program helps keep drugs out of the hands of children, who may come across the excess drugs in their home, and it eliminates the need to flush such pills down the toilet, reducing the burden on local water treatment plants to filter unwanted chemicals out of the water.
While the idea was simple, the execution was a bit more work.
“I worked out a deal with the U.S. Post Office, using mail boxes that were scheduled to be destroyed,” Dyer said. “But it’s a lot of work, and I have a lot of regulations to follow.”
The boxes must be a color that is clearly distinguishable from Post Office blue, it must be under 24-hour surveillance, and must have stickers denoting its purpose. Local businesses and individuals have helped Dyer meet these requirements. Ralph Williams of Williams Body Shop of Bremen has provided painting services, Laura Matlock and the Woodmen of America have helped with the cost of the stickers, and City Lumber of Bremen has helped by reducing the costs of the locks for the boxes. This was in addition to individual donations to the Foundation.
“It’s a good thing to reuse these mail boxes because otherwise they would be crushed and destroyed,” Dyer said. “This way, we give them extra life, and we’re doing some good for the community.”
Local law enforcement officials agree that these drop off boxes are a step in the right direction to reducing access to prescription drugs.
“I applaud this effort,” said Haralson County Sheriff Eddie Mixon. “For years, those of us in law enforcement have been concerned with the relative ease of access to prescription drugs that addicts seem to have in today’s society. Any effort to facilitate the proper and safe disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals is certainly appreciated.”
Safety and security are key issues with the mail boxes. All are under either personnel or video surveillance at all times, providing a secure place to dispose of any unwanted drugs.
“A lot of times, people throw their expired prescriptions in the trash, especially if a family member has passed away and the family is cleaning out the home,” said Pesnell. “This gives everyone a secure environment to do away with those medications without having to worry about someone going through your trash.”
Each week, designated police officers will empty the containers and either incinerate the contents or send them to a secure location to be destroyed. While officials encourage residents to drop off any and all types of drugs, dropping off paraphernalia is discouraged.
“That can cause a hazard to my officer cleaning out the box,” said Buchanan Police Chief Tracy Lambert, “so dropping off needles and things of that nature is discouraged.”
According to Dyer, 72 other police precincts from as far away as Florida and Tennessee have shown an interest in receiving boxes of their own. Which is good news, but Lambert says it will be up to the community whether or not the program is successful.
“The key is participation,” Lambert said. “Parents are going to have to participate and bring the drugs up here and drop them off for this to work.”
Anyone wishing to drop off any drugs at the police stations is welcome to do so with complete anonymity. There are no forms or other registration required. Locations include the Bremen Police Department at 121 Atlantic Avenue, Bremen; Buchanan Police Departmetn at 4300 GA Hwy. 120, Buchanan; Haralson County Sheriff’s Office at 224 Holly Street, Buchanan; and Tallapoosa Police Department at 15 East Alabama Street, Tallapoosa.