The Columbia Police Department recently acquired a drug incinerator through funding provided by the Columbia Department of Public Health and Human Services.
According to CPD Sergeant Daniel Beckman, the machine, branded ‘the Drug Terminator,’ burns drugs at extremely high temperatures. These temperatures lessen the number of pollutants escaping into the air during burning and efficiently allow for the disposal of drugs.
All drugs burned by the incinerator come from cases submitted to the Property and Evidence Room and are assigned a case number. These drugs come from multiple sources, including case evidence and medications brought to the CPD for disposal, Beckman said.
Funds remaining from the Columbia Department of Health and Human Services 2012 budget in the amount of $4,601 made the purchase of the incinerator possible, Health Department Public Information Officer Andrea Waner said.
Waner said the machine might reduce the misuse of drugs in the community as a result of proper disposal. Use of the machine directly affects the health department’s “community-identified strategic issue area” of reducing substance abuse in Boone County, according to Waner. She said she believes the incinerator to have a “very positive effect on our community as a whole.”
In addition, the health department hopes the incinerator will bring about a reduction in the quantity of drugs in landfills.
Beckman listed keeping illicit drugs from contaminating groundwater among other benefits of the device.
Since gaining approval through the Department of Natural Resources permitting process, the machine has been used one time, two weeks ago. Beckman said he anticipates it will be used between one and two times per month.
No specific training is required to operate the incinerator.
“It is very simple to use and instruction was provided by a user manual,” Beckman said.
This particular model was chosen because, due to its approval by DNR in another city, the health department “trusted it,” Waner said.
Beckman said costs for operating the incinerator were equivalent to that of purchasing a bag of charcoal. He was unable to report a cost for maintaining the machine at this time.