standing Stonington Police Department

STONINGTON — Police have added a syringe collection basket to the side of the medication disposal box in the department's front lobby as a safety precaution for officers, but was not encouraging people to use it with any regularity.

The basket, which was added in December, provides an added safety measure for officers, and was installed after the department recently received several drops that included syringes. Stonington Police Capt. Todd Olson said Tuesday that the department would try and assist people as needed, but requested that residents seek a more appropriate way of disposing their sharps.

"We had been getting syringes and other sharps occasionally in the main drop, but it's dangerous for the officers who unload it. Many times they can't see it until it would be too late," Olson said. "We wanted to do something to discourage them ending up in that bin."

The box is small, Olson notes, and would not be suitable for any large disposal needs or regular collection.

Westerly Police Chief Shawn Lacey said his department does not have such an attachment on its main collection box, but has experienced similar problems in the past. He said the department has used additional signs and has worked with people who needed help to dispose of syringes on a case-by-case basis.

Olson and Lacey said the police would not turn away people who needed help, but added that the departments aren't exactly equipped to handle regular syringe disposal.

When it come to the medication drop-off, Olson explained that the department's contract with the local health district and the state does not include disposal of other hazardous medical materials such as sharps. Any regular collection could come with additional costs — and a regular flow of syringes into the department could also create other potential hazards.

"We are fortunate to have partners that have been able to help us in the past, but we are asking that people find a more appropriate disposal option when they can," Olson said. "Liquids and syringes should never be left in the box" for disposal of medications.

jvallee@thewesterlysun.com

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