Greg Schirmers

Little Falls Police Chief Greg Schirmers shows off the new in-wall prescription drug drop box in the breezeway of the Little Falls Police Station. Residents can securely deposit unwanted prescription medications in the box 24/7.

Residents of Little Falls, and Morrison County as a whole, have a new option in disposing of unwanted or expired prescription medications.

About two months ago, a prescription drug drop box was installed at the Little Falls Police Station, 207 First St. NE. The in-wall unit provides for 24/7 access for residents wanting to ensure their medications do not end up on the street. The box itself and installation was paid for through grant funding secured by the Morrison County Sheriff’s Office and St. Gabriel’s Hospital.

Prior to installing the new drop box, Little Falls Police Chief Greg Schirmers said there was a free-standing drop box located inside the lobby of the station.

“You only had access to it from 8 in the morning until 4 p.m. when the office was open during workdays,” Schirmers said. “Now you can come into the breezeway 24 hours a day, seven days a week — it’s open all the time — and you can drop those pills off, so you’re not bound by lobby hours. The other thing we would find, we’d come in in the morning and there would be a bag of pills in the breezeway. We’re avoiding that now, too.”

The addition of the drop box is part of an initiative to take as many unused, prescription medications off of the street and dispose of them safely so they do not fall into the wrong hands. Schirmers said that oftentimes happens in the home when company or a family member with an addiction takes them for illegal use.

It all fits into an effort to keep all controlled substances out of Morrison County and its communities.

Schirmers said many times people just don’t know how to safely dispose of their medications.

“I’ve seen medications that have been brought in here from the 1970s,” Schirmers said. “The oldest prescription I’ve seen so far was from 1973. I’m sure the prescription was no good, but people hold onto things and, over time, they pile up.”

Once the medications are collected at the police station, there is a policy in place that determines how they are removed, transported and destroyed. Two employees must always be present when removing the medications from the cabinet into which they are deposited. They are then secured in an evidence locker, which can only be accessed by a supervisor.

At that point, the LFPD coordinates with the Sheriff’s Office as well as other departments in Pierz and Motley to make sure medications collected at each site are gathered up. Two employees then transport everything to an incinerator at the Pope/Douglas Solid Waste Management Facility in Alexandria.

“We’re not polluting the soil, we’re not polluting groundwater and folks that shouldn’t have access to them, don’t have access to them,” Schirmers said. “I think it’s good for everybody.”

Those other communities have also benefitted from the recent grant funding. Each law enforcement agency in the county now has access to Deterra — an easy to use, at home drug deactivation system. There were also free-standing disposal boxes purchased.

Schirmers said, though he was not aware where all of them were placed, he knew there would eventually be one at Little Falls City Hall.

Overall, Schirmers said it was good opportunity for local law enforcement to help the entire area benefit from grant funding.

So far, that seems to be working.

“The pills that we’ve been collecting, the volume has probably doubled,” Schirmers said. “Last year, for the whole year we collected 1,000 pounds. I’m very interested to see what we have now. I probably have 20 boxes just here at the police station that we’re holding to be destroyed.”

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