Paducah PD: Waging war against prescription pills

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Reporter - Lauren Adams
Photojournalist - Barry Stevenson

PADUCAH, Ky. - In the past, pharmacist Rick Timmons admits his biggest concern was counting the wrong number of pills. Now, it is who he is giving the pills to.

 

"There's a lot of people who come from out-of-town, out-of-state and we just don't trust 'em," he said.

In fact, prescription drug abuse has become such an epidemic, Rick's Pharmacy has been broken into six times in four years.

"Yeah, it's irritating. It's almost to the point it's getting routine," Timmons continued.

"The problem has gotten worse over the years, it's continued to get worse," Paducah Police Detective John Tolliver said Tuesday.

In 2010, there were 342 drug arrests and 45 involved prescription drugs. In 2011, there were 302 drug arrests but 52 arrests were made because of pills. Just last year, there were 299 drug arrests and 62 were prescription pill related.

As of February 1, Detective Tolliver's sole job became going after prescription drug abusers. Instead of hitting the streets, he is hitting the stores and meeting with pharmacists daily.

"Every pharmacy in this town has my personal cell phone number," Tolliver said.

"We can give him a call and he's gonna be 'Johnny on the Spot.' It makes me feel a lot better," Timmons said.

"It's nice. We're not the only cop in the store," he continued.

Detective Tolliver is working with the Commonwealth Attorney's Office. He says the partnership could allow him to improve current laws. He would like to see local laws mandate those purchasing a controlled substance to present a government issued ID.

Also, Tolliver is encouraging what he is calling 'The one call list.' When a pharmacy notices a problem with a missing prescription blank from a doctor's office or becomes aware of a forged prescription, that pharmacy will call another one on a list. The call list continues until all pharmacies are notified.

To date, Tolliver has made six arrests. Paducah Police Chief James Berry says if the need arises, he will expand this program. For now, he says the department will focus on that increased enforcement and programs for the public like prescription drug take backs.

The first take back will be at Kentucky Oaks Mall April 27th.

 

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