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Southeast drug-turn-in and shred event returns

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A helpful service has been revived in Southeast Portland -- to help you get rid of unwanted medicine

DAVID F. ASHTON - PPB East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team (NRT) Officer Ryan Mele drops donated goods into a Sunshine Division barrel. Neighbor interest hasn't waned for having a safe ways to dispose of pharmaceuticals or paperwork bearing personal information – but the federal funding for these Southeast events ended some time ago, and for a time it appeared there wouldn't be anymore.

But now the City of Portland has stepped up, and they're back – twice a year. At the semiannual event on October 22, the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) and City of Portland Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI) teamed up at the same location, with both officers and staff members participating.

With two truck-mounted paper shredders whining in the background, PPB White Collar Crime Detective Brian Sitton told us that shredding document is more important now than ever.

"There's still a large amount of crime that is facilitated by criminals going through dumpsters or garbage cans, looking for discarded documents with personal information on them, like names and accounts numbers," Sitton told THE BEE.

Although almost every document or envelope has an individual's name and address on it – "But certainly, anything like invoices, utility bills, bank statements, or documents showing date of birth and Social Security numbers – all of that should be shredded for sure," Sitton added.

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is still involved in the Portland event – to the extent of taking in medications as part of the program. "The DEA's goal is to help keep prescription medications out of the hands of teenagers and criminals, and also to keep drugs out of our water system and landfills," remarked Sitton.

The medications accepted would be safely incinerated, he said, keeping them from polluting the environment.

At the same time, neighbors were encouraged to bring in packaged food and clean usable clothing to donate to the PPB Sunshine Division, as part of the day's event.

"This is a way that we can give back to the community," Sitton explained. "I work with white-collar crime every day; I think that having documents shredded will make our job a little easier, and people safer. And, having the [expired] drugs removed from medicine cabinets can actually save lives."

At day's end, ONI Crime Prevention Program Manager Stephanie Reynolds reported:

· 7,500 pounds of paper were shredded;

· 480 pounds of medications were taken for incineration;

· 587 pounds of food were donated to the Sunshine Division; and,

· 328 pounds of clothing were donated for the needy.

By the way, in between these twice-yearly events, neighbors are now encouraged to take discarded prescription drugs and medications back to participating pharmacies. PPB Precinct Offices no longer provide public drug turn-in receptacles year 'round.