HAZLETON, Pa. -- Police in Hazleton are using a different set of wheels to fight opioid addiction. Using a van, law enforcement is making a safer way to get rid of unwanted prescription drugs.
Hazleton police say the Drop the Drugs Van is already paying dividends by collecting pounds of pills.
People living in Hazleton call this a step in the right direction when it comes to battling opioid addiction.
The van stands out, and Hazleton police say that's the point.
It's been in service collecting unwanted pills since February.
Paul Brenner, who runs Benner Recyling in Hazleton, spearheaded this project. He says it was in hopes of making city a safer place.
"Just another tool in the toolbox, that's all it is, and it's just going to help. I got involved because I saw a need," Brenner said.
Brenner, along with Mark Ondishin of Hazleton, helped make this medication collection vehicle happen. Now, Hazleton police can take the van throughout the city to collect drugs--no questions asked.
Police say in its first stop, the Drop the Drugs Van collected 30 pounds in unwanted pills. Having the program on wheels makes it easier for people to get rid of those items.
"Police take them, and when they get enough, they get incinerated because you don't want to flush them down your toilet because that is your water supply. You don't want to put them in your trash because you don't know who will see them," said Brenner.
For Ondishin, this is personal. He believes this Drop the Drugs Van could save lives.
"Once this happens in a family, it's very hard to get rid of, and I have seen it first-hand with other families being in business in the area," said Ondishin.
Those living and working in Hazleton tell Newswatch 16 this is a good step in cleaning the streets.
"This is something that should not only be instituted here, but all around the area. If they can mobilize all around the Hazleton area, I think Drums and Conyngham that would be great," said Mary Arritt of Weatherly.
Brenner tells Newswatch 16 that this is a Hazleton city operated vehicle, but he hopes it can be used around the county.