This weekend, the Verona and Cedar Grove Police Departments collected unwanted medication as part of New Jersey's medicine disposal day, "Operation Take Back."
The event, which was held from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, gave residents the chance to dispose of old, expired or unneeded medication in an effort to prevent unsafe use or abuse of the drugs. By 1 p.m. both departments had already collected more than one large plastic bag stuffed full of bottles, with more coming in all the time.
The initiative was spearheaded by the New Jersey Division of the Drug Enforcement Administration. It is the second year the Verona and Cedar Grove Police have participated.
At the Cedar Grove event, Ptl. Michael Tower manned the table in the police station lobby, and directed residents to deposit their items in a white box nearby, adorned with a "Got Drugs?" poster. The box was already stuffed full of everything from diet pills to baby aspirin.
The Cedar Grove event was overseen by Lt. Joseph Cirasa as well as Tower.
Tower said by noon, nearly 20 residents had already been by to dispose of their unwanted drugs, including Devonshire Road resident Bruce Casey, who had a large plastic bag full of items he said he and his wife accumulated during a recent house cleaning, inspired by a new addition to their family.
"We didn't know how to dispose of this stuff otherwise. I didn't want it to end up in the rivers and streams, and we have a kid now, so we were cleaning house," he said.
In Verona, it was the same story. A large plastic bag stuffed with bottles and boxes of unused medication sat on a table where Verona Ptl. Joel Martin and Ptl. John Lecreux were on hand to assist.
Verona Police Captain Mitchell Stern said the collection event is a way to ensure medication doesn't end up in the wrong hands.
"It removes access from a person in the house or a guest who may have a drug problem, prevents people from accidentally taking the wrong or expired medication, and keeps toddlers poking around in the medicine cabinet from taking it," he said.
Police said all collected medication will be taken and incinerated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Update: On Monday, May 2, Verona Police Captain Mitchell Stern said 63 pounds of medication was collected by the department in this year's effort.