IF YOU GO
* What: Drug Take Back Day
* When: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday
* Where: East Chattanooga Improvement Inc. 1502 McCallie Ave.; Brainerd Village Shopping Center 5748 Brainerd Road; First Tennessee Pavilion, 1826 Reggie White Blvd.
Other Drug Take Back sites:
• Hamilton County Sheriff's Office, Central High School, 5800 Highway 58
• Soddy-Daisy Police Department, 9835 Dayton Pike
• Collegedale Police Department, Collegedale City Hall, 4910 Swinyar Dr.
• East Ridge Police Department, 4214 Ringgold Road
• Signal Mountain Police Department, Signal Mountain Police and Fire Station, 1111 Ridgeway Ave.
Chattanooga police Lt. Brian Cotter didn't know of any drug take back days in Chattanooga when East Chattanooga Weed and Seed organized back in 2007.
He and representatives with Weed and Seed — a federally funded program to reduce crime and increase the quality of life in East Chattanooga — got the idea after seeing the event in Knoxville.
Since then law enforcement and agencies across the city have made a coordinated effort to keep unused prescription drugs out of the hands of youth and out of the water system.
The East Chattanooga Improvement Inc., formerly Weed and Seed, will host its sixth Drug Take Back Day on Saturday. At the same time, Drug Take Back events will be hosted at the First Tennessee Pavilion near Findley Stadium and at Brainerd Village.
These locations and more in Hamilton and surrounding counties are part of the annual Drug Take Back Day sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration since 2010. The DEA is responsible for discarding the drugs collected.
"The DEA started a nationwide campaign to do the same thing we'd been doing," said Cotter.
East Chattanooga Improvement has collected more than 100,000 pills and 700 pounds of ointments, liquids and creams in the past five years, said Gloria McClendon, the group's safety committee chairwoman.
Drug Take Back sites will accept everything except needles, IV bags or radioactive materials, McClendon said.
Before drug take back days started, not as many people were aware of the dangers of improperly disposing of drugs. Even professional caregivers flushed pills down the toilet, said Cotter.
But that sends the drugs into cities' water systems. Water tests revealed traces of antidepressants, antibiotics and anti-epileptic medications in some waterways.
Tennessee American Water Co. is one of the sponsors of Drug Take Back Day.
No questions will be asked about drugs dropped off, said Cotter.
Yolanda Putman has been a reporter at the Times Free Press for 11 years. She covers housing and previously covered education and crime. Yolanda is a Chattanooga native who has a master’s degree in communication from the University of Tennessee and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Alabama State University. She previously worked at the Lima (Ohio) News. She enjoys running, reading and writing and is the mother of one son, Tyreese. She has also ...