News @ JSI

Working Together to Make Framingham Safe and Drug-free

May 9, 2018

In its continued effort to promote a safe community, the Framingham Police Department is partnering with the Framingham Housing Authority (FHA) and John Snow, Inc. (JSI), to increase awareness of proper drug disposal while making it easier to do so. Bilingual teams of police officers and FHA staff are going door-to-door to explain the Knock, Talk, and Toss initiative and take any unwanted or unused drugs, no questions asked.

Prescription drugs left unattended or forgotten in medicine cabinets are one of the most accessible gateways to opiate and heroin abuse. Rates of prescription drug abuse in the U.S. are alarmingly high, as are the number of accidental poisonings and overdoses due to these drugs. Removing unwanted, unused, and expired drugs from homes is critical to reducing abuse and accidental poisonings. Yet, the common methods for disposing unused medicines—flushing them down the toilet or throwing them in the trash—pose safety and health hazards.

Since 2015, the Framingham Police Department and Public Health Department have co-hosted the Drug Enforcement Agency’s National Drug Take-Back Day; now twice per year. On Saturday, April 28, 2018, Framingham collected 460 pounds of unwanted, unused, and expired drugs—100 pounds more than this time last year. But the Framingham Police Department isn’t stopping there.

Knowing public safety goes hand-in-hand with public health and housing, the Framingham Police Department chose JSI to design and evaluate the effectiveness of its Knock, Talk, and Toss program.

“We wanted to address some of the challenges we have heard that keep people from properly disposing of unwanted drugs...some individuals are limited in their ability to get to the drop off sites due to disabilities, age, lack of transportation, and demanding schedules; other experience substance-related stigma or are concerned about their immigration status,” says Dr. Tammy Calise, director of JSI Healthy Communities.

Beyond the awareness and collection efforts, Framingham police are dedicated to building relationships and trust with residents. Starting with the FHA seemed obvious. Officer Chris Pisano, the new Framingham housing liaison, says “Through Knock, Talk, and Toss, I will be the first police officer to have visited every single unit throughout the Housing Authority. It’s a great opportunity for me have a positive presence in the area I serve.”

Acting Chief of Police Steven Trask describes Knock, Talk, and Toss as “a way to bring a service to the community—which is immensely important in a culturally diverse community like Framingham.”

Read about the initiative in The Boston Globe, and watch a video piece from WMCT-TV about the program.

Only weeks into the door-to-door program, Framingham Police have collected 16 pounds of unwanted, unused, or expired pills--primarily prescription drugs.Residents are generally happy about the program. “This is a great program, thank you. I did not want anyone getting them [the drugs] but I did not know what to do with them," says one resident. 

With grant funding from the Sudbury Foundation, Mutual One Bank, and the Reinvestment Fund, Knock, Talk, and Toss will continue throughout the summer. JSI will evaluate the program and create a report for the police department that will inform not only the town of Framingham’s next efforts, it may help other departments around the state and country.