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Santa Clarita Valley safe drop-off drug box fills up

Many safely leave unwanted drugs at station

Posted: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 26, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Detective Pat Murphy opens a hollowed-out book containing marijuana found in the safe drug drop-off box at the Santa Clarita Sheriff's Department on Thursday.

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At first, it seemed someone may have confused the converted mailbox in front of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station with the Valencia Library book drop-off bin around the corner.

Inside the white-painted mailbox, labeled “Safe drug drop-off: illegal drugs,” was a book called “Applied Imagination.”

But Detective Pat Murphy, who was emptying the drug drop-off bins in front of the Sheriff’s Station on Thursday with Detective Sgt. Thomas Carter, had experience with items often found inside.

“Sometimes we find books that are hollowed out,” he said, opening “Applied Imagination” and finding what he suspected. A hiding place was carved out of the pages with marijuana and a pipe inside.

Also found in the bin was a freezer bag containing a small vial of what Murphy identified as cocaine.

“A lot of times it’s mothers who find drugs in their son’s room,” Carter said of the finds in the illegal drugs bin.

Three recycled U.S. Post Office mailboxes are lined up in front of the SCV Sheriff’s Station, each labeled to receive a different drug-related item: Illegal drugs in the center, prescription medications on the right and an oversized box for biohazards and needles on the left.

The sharps box was overflowing Saturday, with plastic bags brimming from the chute where items are dropped.

So many items are received that sheriff’s personnel are compelled to empty the boxes every other day on average, Murphy and Carter said.

Most of the items in the filled illegal drugs bin on Thursday were prescription drug containers.

When Murphy unlocked the prescription medicines bin and pulled its front-loading door, hundreds of prescription vials of various sizes tumbled out, some sent rolling onto the Sheriff’s Station parking lot.

“I emptied these bins on Monday,” Murphy said, “and on Monday they were filled like this.”

Wearing long protective heavily-padded leather gloves, Murphy scooped the discarded meds into an industrial-strength transparent garbage bag.

As detectives were bagging the drugs, a smiling woman approached them with a vial of prescription medicine that she simply handed to Murphy.

“We collect about 400 pounds of drugs a week,” he said.

The largest bin of the three is designated for biohazard material, which contained primarily syringes — hundreds of them. On Thursday, dozens of bags and plastic containers, including laundry detergent containers containing syringes, filled the bin to overflowing, making it impossible to close its pull-down loading lid.

“We want people to feel comfortable dropping off drugs,” Carter said when asked if narcotics detectives are interested in identifying those using the system.

The short answer was “no,” Carter said, noting he wants drug donors to remain anonymous and, in doing so, encourage them to continue dropping off drugs.
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