- Reynoldsburg City officials participate in the national clean-up initiative
- Columbus City Joins in Community Safety Day
By Okon Ekpenyong
On Saturday, October 17th, 2021, the Reynoldsburg Division of Police conducted collections of unused/expired prescription medications or over-the-counter medications. It is part of the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day to work with the public to prevent pharmaceutical controlled substance abuse. It means not having the prescription end up in the wrong hands, for example, children or individuals already battling an addiction to medications.
Those collected medications will help ease the minds of law enforcement and other treatment agencies who are already working to keep drugs off the streets. The drop-off location was outside the City Hall and Reynoldsburg Division of Police headquarters, located at Main Street and Davidson Road.
The city also worked with other agencies such as Rentek (recycling old electronics), Shred-It (unwanted documents), and Environmental Enterprises (hazardous waste) to help with the initiative. Providing a wide range of services for families, residents, and seniors to dispose of unused or expired medications or items the right way.
The “Ohio Laws and administrative rules,” specifically the legislative service commission section 2925.11, possession of controlled substances went into effect on March 22nd, 2019. Category A states, “No person shall knowingly obtain, possess, or use a controlled substance or a controlled substance analog.”
Officer King & Officer Marshall with Reynoldsburg Division of Police commented on the importance of the National Drug Take-Back initiative:
Officer King: The initiative behind the event is for law enforcement agencies to take back the old pills that people have inside their homes and get the drugs properly disposed of. It is essential because people do not need to keep expired/used medicine at their house. After all, it could end up in the wrong hands.
Officer Marshall: Grandmas leave the pill in their cabinets, and grandchildren may grab this and say, let me try this. Too often, they are addicted or stealing the drugs, and then we have an issue. That’s one of the reasons the Prescription Drug take back is so important, it is to find ways to dispose of the pills instead of flushing it down the toilet.
Officer Marshall also stated that it starts the cycle of addiction if those medications remain on the premises.
Officer Marshall concluded that there’s a drop-off box at your local police station 24/7, but it is held twice a year for this particular event.
Mayor Joseph Begeny:
Apart from dropping unused/expired medications, residents had the opportunity to drop off their bicycles, old electronics and sensitive documents that needed shredding. The event also included dropping off hazardous waste like paints and batteries at Huber Park.
The event usually takes place during the spring, but due to Covid, we did not have that opportunity this year because we could not get the shredding trucks. We try to do at least one community clean-up a year, but because we could not get the shredding trucks in the spring, we moved it to October 16th, 2021.
We will be back to our regular Spring schedule on Earth Day next year, April 23rd, 2022. It will take place at JFK park; we alternate years with hazardous materials, but we always do the shredding and clean-up.
Representatives from Rentek, Shred-It, and Environmental Enterprises participating in Reynoldsburg’s Drug Take-Back Day initiative.
Dan Frost at RenTek: Community Computer Alliance
We have been partnering with the city of Reynoldsburg for the past eight years now doing this wonderful event that they do.
RenTek is an electronic recycling company, and one of the things that we do is job scope training with an individual with Developmental disabilities by collecting these unwanted electronics. We teach basic job skills to those individuals. It is a wonderful program to help out the community.
All of the cash donations go to our job training programs.
Materials that can be refurbished are refurbished and kept in the community so that they don’t have to be recycled.
The material that requires recycling is then moved to our job training program, where we teach our participants on the skill training program how to use hand tools, power tools, and other soft skills like working in groups and things of that nature. Residents can drop off any electronic with a cord. However, they do not accept the following items: anything containing Freon, hazardous materials, batteries, fire extinguishers, small appliances/smoke detectors, and much more.
Brian DePeel, Director of Lappack Services at Environmental Enterprises based out of (Cincinnati, Ohio)
It is material that’s usually found underneath someone’s sink or in their garage. It helps keep hazardous waste off the landfill here locally. It’s a good community program that helps keep everything off the side of the road. You are not allowed to have liquid on those chemical gallons or bottles. It is a good initiative that keeps a lot of waste out of the community and keeps the fire and police department happy.
Items Containing Freon, Alkaline Batteries, old gasoline, motor oil, latex and oil-based paint, and pool chemicals, for example, were some of the materials that residents could drop off.
Community Safety Day
On the other hand, Columbus teamed up with the police and fire departments and the DEA to form a community safety day initiative. The fire paramedic team administrated vaccination in the back of the Columbus training fire academy. The Columbus DEA team members were present encouraging the public to drop off their unused and expired medications, which is part of the national drug take-back day. At the same time, the Columbus Division of Police joined other cities like Cincinnati and Cleveland to promote a gun buyback proposal calling it “Community Safety Day.”
Columbus Assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts said “We sold out of gifts card two hours before we were supposed to, so we collected about 102 guns in total; 74 handguns, 15 shotguns, and 13 rifles were bought.
“Individuals turning in their firearms received fifty-dollar gift cards and will remain unanimous no questions asked. This initiative is critical because the city’s homicide count is now over 170,” Potts said.
Police Chief Elaine Bryant and assistant Police Chief LaShanna Potts officially started their roles on October 25, 2021. They both promised to bring the necessary changes to the Columbus Division of Police, especially since the department and other law enforcement agencies throughout the country struggled to come to terms with public perception of their work stemming over the death of George Floyd on May 25, 2021.
“Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant and I are really community advocates, so we believe in being grassroots in the community. When we got here, we knew that getting boots on the ground was necessary, and that is what we have been doing the last four months by getting to know our activists, community partners, and stakeholder”, Potts said.
“Council-member Mitchell J. Brown reached out to us and said can we do anything about gun violence? And this was the branch out of that,” she added.
Forming a relationship with the New American Community has not been an easy road, Potts noted.
“We are absolutely looking for a way to connect, we’ve been trying to, but so far, we have not.” According to the Columbus website, more than 155,000 residents live in the city but were born outside of the country. During the pandemic, the Asian-American community has joined other minority groups after several of its community members attacked, stemming from the idea that they had something to do with the covid-19, leading to the hashtag “Stop the Asian Hate.”
The Chief mentioned that the new administration in the police division would love to sit down with the refugees and immigrant communities in Columbus to find some of the disparities out there while hoping to find a way to fill that gap.
It is necessary to include the new American community in that initiative of making Columbus a safer city for all because out of those 170 homicides, some of the victims were first and second-generation immigrants.
Besides giving out $50 gift cards, gun safety training was on top of the list, including safely locking up your firearms. All guns went through forensic testing to ensure that they were not involved in previous criminal activities.
“I want to thank the city council, auditor’s office, treasury department, public safety director, and of course, Columbus, the division of fire. It took all of us to make this a success, and it is one of the many initiatives that the public will see coming out of the chief office.”
The event took place at the Columbus Fire Training Academy on Parsons Avenue.