By Adam Quandt
During the March 22 Orono City Council meeting, the council heard a presentation from Orono Police Chief Correy Farniok regarding the annual police department report for 2016.
At the beginning of the presentation, Chief Farniok presented each member of the council with an example of a drug deactivation bag.
The bags will be available at various locations during this year’s city clean up event, in hopes to help Orono citizens dispose of unused prescription medications.
“A leading cause of how people get addicted is because of the prescription pills that are left in their medicine cabinets,” Farniok said.
Unused prescription drugs should never been thrown in the garbage or flushed down the toilet, as they can get into both water systems and lakes, and sanitation systems that way.
The drug deactivation bags are coated with a carbon agent, which will seal the bags and deactivate the drugs, making them safe to throw into the garbage and prevent leeching once at a landfill.
Each individual bag is able to hold up to 45 pills, 6 ounces of fluid or 6 patches.
“There is a big prescription drug problem,” Councilmember Richard Crosby said.
During the city clean up event, citizens can dispose of their prescription drugs at various locations with no questions asked from the police.
“It’s all no questions asked,” Farniok said. “We don’t inventory…everything is anonymous.”
Chief Farniok said that last year’s drug takeback program took in somewhere around 58 pounds of prescription drugs.
Around 300 deactivation bags were purchased by the Orono Police Department with the help of the crime prevention fund. If citizens wish to pick up deactivation bags any time other than the city clean up day, they can be picked up at the Orono Police Station.
“It’s a great initiative,” Councilmember Victoria Seals said, with the rest of the council nodding in agreement.
During the rest of the presentation, Chief Farniok went over the 2016 annual Police Department report.
Farniok highlighted the department’s work in community education and involvement through programs like heartsafe training, forensics day and civilian use of force training programs.
In the report, Farniok also noted that Orono saw an increase of thefts from vehicles throughout 2016.
“Please lock the doors of your vehicles and take your valuables inside,” Farniok said.
He said that most of the thefts occurred from already unlocked vehicles, with very few vehicles actually being broken into.
Lastly, Chief Farniok reported on the work of the joint drug task force.
The force brought in just under 13 pounds of cocaine, 58 pounds of meth and 48 pounds of marijuana throughout 2016. Farniok said that last year was a switch from the previous year in seeing a spike in heroin, cocaine and meth, rather than higher amounts of marijuana.
He also said that not all of those drugs were taken within the police department’s service area. Farniok explained that the drug task force doesn’t operate within those boundaries. “Most cases start small and are followed outside of the community,” Farniok said.
Mayor Denny Walsh then mentioned the importance of the school resource officers inside the schools at Orono and Westonka public schools and applauded their efforts to stay on top of things.
Following Chief Farniok’s presentation the mayor and council thanked the chief and his officers for all of the hard work they put into keeping the communities safe.
The full 2016 annual police department report will be available online for public viewing at a later date.
The next Orono City Council meeting will take place on April 24 at 7 p.m. in the Orono City Council chambers.