Drug Task Force acquires permanent take-back boxes

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – The Belmont College welding program is responsible for the new drug boxes that will be placed in each of the nine towns in Belmont County.

The box will be either placed in the municipal buildings or in the police stations. Four of the boxes are completed and the other five are in the process. Several businesses in the areas made donations to the boxes.

The idea for this first came about when Martins Ferry Police Chief and Drug Task Force Commander John McFarland and Martins Ferry Safety Director Bill Suto were discussing the current government issued boxes for the annual drug take back days. The issued box was in fact a cardboard box.

“When we had those drug take back days, our box would normally be filled,” said McFarland. “With the problems we are having in the world today, the problems with prescription drug abuse and drug abuse in general, we thought what a good idea it would be to have a permanent box set up where people could bring their unused and unwanted prescription drugs and drop them off at any time.”

After several phone calls were made by Suto, he eventually came into contact Dirk DeCoy, the Director of Industrial Trades and Contract Training at Belmont College. Suto told DeCoy what they had in mind as far as a permanent drug take back box and Belmont College was on board. The boxes were made by the Welding Capstone Class last year and took over a 14 week period to create.

“I am very proud of my students, (the boxes) turned out very well, they look official. They are doing the job they are suppose to do. It was the students baby, the instructors did not get involved with the actual fabrication of it, what they did shows the quality of what they learned here, I am very proud of the students,” said DeCoy.

After being approached by the Belmont County Drug Task Force, the class began to research the different types and styles. A prototype was made and approved by the Drug Task Force.

During the drug raids, when the task force enters a house, there are used syringes laying through the house and often times in reach of children. With these new boxes, used syringes can be left in these boxes as well.

“What we decided to do with these take back boxes was put a slit where they can put the used syringes and keep them out of the hands of children,” said McFarland. “A big thank you to Bill Suto, Belmont College, Dirk DeCoy, Riesbeck’s, East Ohio Regional Hospital, Morristown Pharmacy and Barnesville Hospital. This could have not been possible without their help.”

Any type of drugs can be dropped into the box and will be emptied by a member of the Drug Task Force. The drugs will be then be destroyed.

“This is awesome, this is something that all the law enforcement agencies in Belmont County need,” said Belmont County Sheriff Dave Lucas. “We all work together, the Drug Task Force and the school just shows the community can come together for a good cause. This is going to help out the communities of all Belmont County.”

“The rise in trafficking of illegal prescription drugs has been significant and the Drug Task Force has been doing an outstanding job attacking that head on, but these boxes are a proactive step they are taking to not only cut down on that trafficking but also there are going to be other affects there is a possibility that this could also reduce burglary or breaking and entering,” said Belmont County Prosecutor Chris Berhalter. “… And I thank all of the businesses that donate because without their support, this would have not been possible.”

Van Dyne can be reached at kvandyne@timesleaderonline.com.