RICHMOND -- Police and elected officials on Wednesday unveiled a new collection bin for area residents to discard old or unwanted prescription drugs.
The 4-foot-tall white metal receptacle sits in the Richmond Police Department's main lobby on 1701 Regatta Blvd.
Anyone can open the bin's hatch and discard pills and other nonliquid prescription drugs or medications any time day or night, nothing to sign and no questions asked.
"The concept is pretty simple," said Richmond police Chief Chris Magnus.
The bin is funded through a $250 grant from the National Association of Drug Diversion Investigators (NADDI). Richmond police hope that the opportunity to deliver unused, unwanted or expired medications to a secure location for safe disposal reduces abuse.
The regular emptying and disposal of the contents of the bin will be handled by Officer Tim Simmons, who Magnus said was trained as a licensed pharmacist before joining the force.
State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Berkeley, and Richmond City Councilmen Corky Booze and Jeff Ritterman were also on hand for the announcement Wednesday.
Hancock said her interest in growing prescription drug abuse stemmed in part from the stories of Contra Costa County constituents whose teen and adult children died after mixing prescription drugs with alcohol.
"This is a problem across the state," Hancock said.
Controlled prescription drugs are the second most commonly abused category of drugs, according to Richmond police, behind marijuana.
The anonymous drop-off bin is new to Richmond but not to the area. RecycleMore and West County Resource Recovery Inc. have partnered with police departments in San Pablo and Pinole for similar collections boxes earlier this year.
Magnus also announced a drug-disposal day at the Hilltop mall police substation scheduled for 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 29, where anyone can bring in drugs and medications for anonymous drop-off. Magnus said he has become aware in recent years not only of the dangers of prescription drug abuse but also of water and landfill contamination caused by improper disposal in trash cans and toilets.
"We have learned a lot over the last few years," Magnus said.