NewCoin2014-Front-Transparent-webThe Benton Police Department is launching the “My Safer City” initiative during the month of April.  This proactive initiative is geared towards increasing public awareness of alcohol and drug related substance abuse in our community, and ways to help prevent it.  
The name of the initiative, “My Safer City”, was conceived as a way to help everyone in the community take ownership in the overall health, safety, and overall wellbeing of people in our great city.  To achieve this goal, we will be conveying pertinent information about substance abuse, teaching classes to those most likely to be affected, and hosting another drug take back event.  
The school resource officers will be teaching classes this month to students about the dangers of drinking and driving, and illicit drug usage.  Some of the classes will be geared towards high school students to educate them prior to upcoming events, such as prom and graduation, that tend to increase the risk of harm from engaging in such behavior.  
A sobering fact is that approximately 2/3 of all prescription drugs illegally obtained are taken from people’s homes and not pharmacies or off the street.  Approximately 1/5 (52 million people) of the US population aged 12 and older reported non-medical use of psychotherapeutic drugs at some point in their lifetime.  These include prescription-type pain relievers, tranquilizers, stimulants, and sedatives.
To help combat this problem, the Benton Police Department is also launching Operation Medicine Cabinet XI on April 25th as part of the on-going DEA prescription medicine take back initiative. Officers will once again be staffing a drop-off location in the city in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies in the county and state.  
The drop off site will be at Ferguson’s Furniture located on Military Rd. located in Benton from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM.  Wal-Mart gift cards and Sonic drink coupons will once again be offered, while supplies last, for those that participate by dropping off medicine.  If you can’t make it on April 25th, you’re encouraged to use the 24 hour drop-off box located at the Benton Police Department.  Statewide drop off locations and other helpful information can be found at 
If parents are wondering how they can help keep their children from substance abuse, it starts at home with education.  The state drug director’s motto of “Monitor, Secure, and Dispose” serves this purpose quite well.  By securing drugs or alcohol around the home and through proper disposal of drugs, it will go a long way towards this goal.  To help us in the fight to keep Benton a safer city, everyone throughout the community is encouraged to use the “Secure, Monitor, and Dispose” slogan and start looking through their own medicine cabinet in preparation for this event.  
Saline County and Benton have both been leaders in the state in regards to the amount of drugs taken back during the previous statewide drug take backs, having taken back over 3 ½ tons to date.  That isn’t to say we necessarily have more of a problem with prescription drug abuse, just that our population is more attune to the problem and is better educated about the dangers.  By continuing to educate the community, our intention is to continue leading the state in future drug take back events and to see a decrease in the amount of injuries and deaths associated with their misuse.  As another positive side effect, the drug take back program also keeps the drugs from entering our water supply and potentially causing unintended harm.  
The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also found that non-medical use of prescription drugs among children ages 12 to 17, and adults 26 or older, remained essentially unchanged. According to the survey, rates of past-month drinking, binge drinking, and heavy drinking among those who are underage are all on the decline, although more work and education is needed to further cut this rate. Marijuana use is up slightly, from 5.8 percent in 2007, to 7.2 percent in 2012. Tobacco use among teens ages 12 to 17 is down.   
Throughout the month of April, officers will also be making use of Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) funding to enhance and add extra staffing dedicated to locating drivers impaired by drugs and/or alcohol. Although STEP is a year-round program, there will be extra emphasis during this initiative to help make our community a safer one.  
Please join us in helping to make Benton, “My Safer City.”