TOM BEAN — A black metal box on top of a waist-high pole is cemented into the ground outside the Tom Bean Police Department. It looks like a mailbox except it doesn’t collect letters. It’s for unwanted drugs.

TOM BEAN — A black metal box on top of a waist-high pole is cemented into the ground outside the Tom Bean Police Department. It looks like a mailbox except it doesn’t collect letters. It’s for unwanted drugs.


Last month, the city celebrated the two-year anniversary of the box that has collected about 150 pounds of expired or unwanted medications. The box was created for citizens to safely deposit drugs at any time so the medications stay out of the sewer system and off the streets. Police Chief Frank Deater said the box, which was installed February 2014, has been successful in its job.


"Primarily the stuff that’s turned in is old or unwanted prescriptions, stuff citizens were afraid to dispose of and we were the ones to dispose of it for them, "Deater said.


The box was designed so once the items are submitted they can’t be withdrawn from the box, similar to a large post office box. The drugs the box collects are secured and then destroyed at a designated burn site. Deater said so far no illicit substances have turned up inside the box, but citizens can deposit contraband without facing legal penalty.


"We’re not going to go after them if they’re trying to do the right thing," Deater said.


Mayor Sherry Howard said the box is the only one of its kind in Grayson County, however, several cities take part in annual drug disposal days, which serves a similar purpose. The Drug Enforcement Administration has scheduled the National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day for April 30 to provide a way for citizens across the country to dispose of medications. Cities in Grayson County including Sherman have participated in this event in the past.


Howard said the father of a Tom Bean officer built and donated the box to the city. She said the community has responded well to the box’s placement, and she hopes other cities follow Tom Bean’s example.


"It helps keeps that out of our water system and keeps them off the street," Howard said.


The box was also put in place to help prevent people from flushing the substances, which can damage sewage treatment facilities.


"It’s important to destroy it rather than flush it because flushing the substances gets down into the sewer system and destroys all the micro organisms that are used to treat the sewage," Deater said.


If an item is too large to fit inside the box, the police department will take it in person. Deater said the same the rules apply so citizens can turn in illicit substances without facing possession penalties.


"It’s making people aware to not leave stuff lying around but to get it destroyed and out of their house as soon as possible because it doesn’t do anything but create temptation to have the drugs in your possession," Deater said