Dubuque Drug Task Force collects more than 650 pounds on National Drug Take Back Day
Saturday served as National Drug Take Back Day, where law enforcement agencies held events encouraging community members to drop off unused or old prescription medications, syringes, vitamins, and other items. The event was established to lower the risk of drug abuse.
People in Dubuque came in waves, and bags came in bunches. The Dubuque Drug Task Force, a collaboration between the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office and the Dubuque Police Department, came close to breaking its all-time collection record Saturday. The task force opened a temporary drive-thru, sharing the parking lot at the Sam's Club in Dubuque.
"It always kind of surprises us how many people come out," said Sgt. Gary Pape of the Dubuque County Sheriff's Office. Sgt. Pape serves as Project Director for the Dubuque Drug Task Force. "They look forward to this, they mark it on their calendars, and they know about what time of year it is. We've had several people come through who said this is about the third or fourth time they've done this, and they look forward to it."
Sgt. Pape said they were expecting about 300-400 pounds of medications and sharps. The exact total was 652.32 pounds, close to their all-time record- just shy of 700 pounds.
Between word of mouth and different advertisements, awareness for the event was high. People looked at the event as an opportunity to clean their houses of things they no longer needed, or things they did not know where to bring.
"When I saw this, I thought: 'what a great opportunity,'" said Jane Loring, who cleaned her home of items from years ago. "I couldn't find a place where they would take back the used syringes, so I just handed them five years worth used syringes."
Sgt. Pape said success for this event is not measured in pills, bottles, cars, or conversations.
"For us it's a success if we keep someone from starting those drugs, even a child from getting injured," Sgt. Pape said. "We're good with that."
Events across the TV9 viewing area saw results ranging from about 60 pounds from the Cedar Rapids Police Department to the 652 pounds in Dubuque. Regardless of the varying totals Saturday, many areas rely on drop boxes at their law enforcement agencies to help them collect year round. The Cedar Rapids Police Department posted to Facebook saying since their last take back event in April, they collected 570.3 pounds.