In what he referred to as “opening the aperture” of Londonderry’s efforts in the nationwide drug take back initiative, Chairman Tom Dolan of the Londonderry Town Council on Monday formally announced that illegal drugs could now be disposed of at the Londonderry Police Department’s drug take-back container.
Describing the change as the next step in Londonderry’s proactive approach to combating the opioid crisis in the Granite State, Chairman Dolan made the case for the power of local leadership.
“This isn’t about being first, but it is important for us to demonstrate some leadership on this issue,” Dolan said. Going on to say that “this drug problem is not defined by town boundaries, and we hope that the leadership that we’re demonstrating in this area spreads to other communities as well.”
Under the new policy, individuals will now be allowed to place any illegal drugs in the secure take-back container without fear of being questioned or prosecuted by police. While the drop-off process is anonymous and does not require interacting with a police officer, the take-back bin is monitored by a video camera in order to prevent it from being tampered with.
Present to help introduce the new policy, Londonderry Police Chief William R. Hart stated that the success of the town’s prescription drug take-back efforts played a big role in the move toward expanding the initiative to include illegal substances. Recalling the “hundreds of pounds of prescription drugs” turned in to the police department, Chief Hart noted that he saw the inclusion of illegal drugs as “an opportunity for life to be saved.”
“Whatever you put in there that helps to keep people safe is up to you,” said Hart.
Londonderry began the program nearly a decade ago with a Drug Enforcement Administration sponsored take-back day that was held twice a year. The effort encouraged citizens to dispose of their expired and unused prescription drugs in an effort to curb a nationwide opioid crisis that many say began with a glut of prescription painkillers.
Although Londonderry was one of the first communities in New Hampshire to organize a prescription drug take-back day, today towns and cities across the Granite State have followed suit and implemented similar initiatives of their own. In 2016, the town decided that it would move to a year round model, placing a permanent take-back bin in the police department that could be accessed by citizens at any time of the day or night.
Presiding over the take-back initiative’s growth over the last several years, Chief Hart described opening up the program to illegal substances as “consistent with the progressive way that we’ve approached the drug issue.”
According to Chairman Dolan, the town’s new policy regarding the take-back of illegal drugs has even earned the approval of the corner office in Concord.
“I spoke to Governor Sununu when he was here a few weeks ago and he was very much in favor of us moving in this direction,” said Dolan. “He’s very supportive of us.”