89 law enforcement officials from police departments, sheriff’s offices and government agencies located across the Northeastern Oklahoma attended an educational seminar in Claremore on Thursday, May 20, to learn how to fight illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription medications. The seminar was co-sponsored by the Claremore Police Department and the Healthy Community Partnership with additional educational support provided by pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma L.P.
Attendees included law enforcement officers from the Claremore, Owasso, Glenpool, Bartlesville, Grove, McAlester, Tulsa, Stillwater, Broken Arrow, Miami, Sand Springs, Inola, Skiatook, Oklahoma City, Wagoner, Fort Gibson, Vinita, Bethany, Bixby, Disney, Cleveland, Pryor, Jay and University of Oklahoma Police Departments, the Rogers County, Nowata County, Tulsa County, Wagoner County and Delaware County Sheriff’s Offices, the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, Oklahoma Probation and Parole and the Okmulgee Justice Center. The education session was led by Ritch Wagner and Ed Cartwright from Purdue Pharma’s Law Enforcement Liaison & Education Department. Mr. Wagner and Mr. Cartwright each have close to 30 years of law enforcement experience, including investigating the illegal trafficking (or “diversion”) of prescription medications. The session covered the types of medications that are targets for theft, illegal sale and abuse, common methods of diverting prescription medications and the difference between lawful and unlawful prescribing by healthcare professionals.
Attendees also learned about what law enforcement officials can do to deter pharmacy theft. RxPATROL®, a program created and funded by Purdue Pharma L.P., helps pharmacists guard against robberies and burglaries and assists law enforcement efforts to catch pharmacy crime suspects. To date, law enforcement has used the program in combination with reward offers through local Crime Stoppers programs to catch more than 100 pharmacy theft suspects.
“We have seen an increase in the abuse of pharmaceutical medications throughout Rogers County and across the state of Oklahoma,” said Sergeant Wayne Stinnett of the Claremore Police Department. “It is vital for our law enforcement community to keep abreast of changing trends in order to learn to identify the problems associated with this abuse and take steps to prevent it. Today’s training is vital tool for law enforcement and the criminal justice community and shows the benefits of public and private sector resources working together for public safety.”
Co-sponsor Healthy Community Partnership’s Prevention Specialist Trisha DeLozier said, “We’ve been making great strides in bringing awareness to the county and fighting Prescription Drug abuse. In one year, built a permanent RX drop off location that has collected over 120,000 controlled pills, purchased drug dogs for the City of Claremore and Rogers County and has been instrumental in the State-Wide Prescription Drug Awareness Initiative. Our goal is to achieve lasting, positive change to prevent substance abuse in Rogers County and this training will help our law enforcement community reach that goal.”
Mr. Cartwright and Mr. Wagner also discussed how the illegal trafficking and abuse of prescription medications can interfere with the care of people with serious illnesses and injuries.
“These medications have a legitimate purpose when used as directed,” according to Ed Cartwright with Purdue Pharma’s Law Enforcement Liaison & Education Department. “However, abusing prescription medications can have dangerous and even deadly consequences and can make it harder for people who need these medications to get them.”
The Claremore Police Department is urging everyone to take precautions to prevent prescription drug abuse.
“People should secure medications in the home, encourage friends and relatives to safeguard their medications and ask their pharmacist about how to properly dispose of medications they no longer need,” added Sgt. Wayne Stinnett.