Officer Craig McNew Awarded Metro Drug Coalition’s Innovations In Substance Abuse Prevention Award

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Officer Craig McNew Awarded Metro Drug Coalition’s Innovations In Substance Abuse Prevention Award

Posted: 09/13/2016
Mayor Rogero, Craig McNew, Chief RauschKnoxville Police Department Officer Craig McNew was recently awarded a Community Champion Award from the Metro Drug Coalition.  Officer McNew was honored with the Innovations in Substance Abuse Prevention Award for helping implement a groundbreaking prevention project to promote safe disposal of unwanted medications.  

In 2008, Officer McNew partnered with the City and County Solid Waste Offices, Knox County Health Department, and the Tennessee Department of Environmental Conservation, with the goal of providing citizens a safe and responsible way to get rid of expired, unused, and unwanted medications.  Drugs that are not disposed of properly can end up in a number of undesirable outcomes, such as in the hands of children or addicted individuals, or flushed down the drain and ultimately ending up in creeks and rivers with detrimental impacts to water quality and aquatic life.  
Officer McNew led a task force to develop a solution for proper collection and disposal – the first of its kind in the southeast.  Officer McNew’s expertise was essential to answer the many legal issues and policy development associated with collecting drugs.  When initiated it was one of very few programs that accepted both over the counter and prescription medications.  Under the leadership of Officer McNew this innovative program is now a model for many other communities in the region as well as in some cities in other states.  Officer McNew and his collaborators now host quarterly collection events and a permanent drop box collection point has been created at the Knoxville Police Department that is available 24-hours a day.

"Officer McNew's efforts have brought an awareness of the dangers of unused/unwanted drugs to the general public, and helps get the drugs off the streets," said Knoxville Police Department Chief David Rausch.  

Since the start of the program in November of 2008, over 8.65 tons of unwanted drugs, medications and personal care products have been collected and properly disposed of. Through the program, 2.66 tons of packaging has been recycled and 1,702 mercury thermometers have been properly recycled.  

In addition to citizen response, local organizations have recognized its importance and joined to support the program – these include the Metropolitan Drug Commission, KUB, Hallsdale-Powell Utilities District, Quality Rx Returns (a reverse take back private business), pharmacies such as Walgreens, local media outlets, and the UT Student Pharmacy Association.  

Click here to view a listing of previous KPD award winners.