By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (April 27, 2017) – Officials from across the county gathered Thursday to smoke some dope… in a new drug incinerator that will be used to dispose of seized narcotics and unneeded prescription drugs.
Representatives of Erath County Crime Stoppers, the cities of Stephenville and Dublin, Erath County, Tarleton State University and Atmos Energy gathered for a ribbon cutting celebration Thursday, which also welcomed Dr. David Stanphill and Dr. Stephanie Cervetto from Stephenville Family Dentistry.
The incinerator was funded by contributions from Dr. Stanphill and Erath County Crime Stoppers, according to Stephenville Police Chief Jason King.
King also said Atmos Energy and the city of Stephenville’s utility crew were instrumental in installation of the device, which burns at about 2,000 degrees and operates on natural gas.
“This project started in early fall,” King said. “The police department has a had a need for a way to properly dispose of drug evidence and prescription drugs for a long time.”
Local law enforcement officials previously traveled hundreds of miles and paid costly fees to properly dispose of illicit drugs, King said, adding the department applied for a grant about a year ago but failed to obtain the funding.
King and Dr. Stanphill, a longtime supporter of the police department and graduate of Citizens’ Police Academy, serve on the STAR Council board of directors and were talking after a meeting when the issue of the incinerator came up.
“He asked me if there was anything he could do for the police department and agreed to furnish a large portion of the cost for the incinerator,” King said. “Crime Stoppers agreed to furnish all other costs. We would not be here without their financial support.”
The incinerator was an estimated $15,000 investment.
Dr. Stanphill said he is proud to give a “tiny bit” of support to the war on drugs.
“I see kids make a bad decision, get into drugs and they to go quickly downhill,” he said. “It’s a hard lifestyle to get away from, and I know this won’t solve the problem, but it will help. I’m glad to be a part of making drugs a little more difficult to obtain in our community.”
The incinerator will serve all local law enforcement agencies, including Stephenville and Dublin Police Departments, Erath County Sheriff’s Office and Tarleton State University Police.
During the ribbon cutting ceremony, officials sent bins of old evidence up in smoke.
Lt. James Gresham, who serves with the Stephenville Police Department and on the Crime Stoppers board of directors, said the marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamine had already had already had its day in court and orders of destruction had been issued for the old evidence.
Jeanine Parmentier, Stephenville crime scene technician, said she had about nine bins of old evidence ready for destruction and a bin full of prescription drugs were previously destroyed in the incinerator.
Gresham said a medication collection container, accessible 24 hours a day in the police department lobby, fills up quickly. He also reminded citizens to use the device when they no longer need medications or have expired prescriptions they want to remove from their homes.
Needles, liquids, ointments, aerosol cans, inhalers and biohazardous waste should not be left in the container and all pills should be removed from bottles.
The free medication collection service keeps dangerous substances out of the hands of children and also prevents them from contaminating the water supply.