Prescription Pill Problem

Crime Down In 2013, Says 83rd Pct. Captain

Rather than buying illegal drugs off the street, teenagers are getting high on prescription drugs found in most medicine cabinets, a member of the NYPD School Safety Division warned at the 83rd Precinct Community Council meeting last Tuesday night, Feb. 19, at the Bushwick stationhouse.

Lt. Gaby Celiba told attendees they shoudn’t assume that their children are clean simply by avoiding cocaine or heroin, as prescription drug abuse is just as prevalent among teenagers as illegal drug use.

In a study, the NYPD found that a lot of problems in schools and communities have to do with the abuse of medical drugs like OxyContin and Vicodin. In 2011, seven percent of teens admitted to abusing some sort of medical drug-and those were the ones being honest, Celiba noted.

He said officers have found that teens bring pills from their parents’ medicine cabinets-or wherever else they can find them-and place them into a bowl at a party. They then mix the bowl and randomly select a pill to be washed down with alcohol.

A movie clip about parents who have lost their kids or have had their teens severely affected by the abuse of prescription pills was aired to further drive the message home that anyone can easily be at risk.

“When was the last time you went into your medicine cabinet and looked at how many pills you have left over?” Celiba asked. “You have to go home and do an inventory of your medicine cabinet.”

He also said to question why your teen’s friends show up at your home for only 15 minutes, go to the bathroom and then leave-he said if that’s the case then they may be ravaging through your cabinet.

Unlike street drugs, there’s a misperception prescription drugs are somehow safer.

“They may not have that criminal aspect to them where they will go and buy drugs from a drug dealer but they would have no problem taking your own pills because they need to fall asleep or stay awake or need to get a high,” Celiba said.

According to The Medicine Abuse Project, about 2,500 kids begin to abuse medicine every day. It’s an epidemic that has fueled an illegal prescription drug trade.

“This is just as addictive as heroin or crack or any of those controlled substances,” added Celiba. “It’s a controlled substance; they could get arrested just as they would selling other drugs.”

Community Board 4 member Robert Camacho inquired about what to do with pills left over after being used. He said that there should be a program where you can drop them off, similar to a gun buyback program.

“It is in the works, we just have to work out the logistics,” Celiba said .

P.O. Damarys Franco added that the medicine can be discarded properly with help from 311 and the police department does have a program where drop-offs are accepted. But she also added that, “maybe we can do it a little more frequently and more locally,” because it only happens three or four times a year.

Crime report

The 83rd Precinct’s commanding officer told Bushwick residents that crime has significantly decreased so far this year after a challenging 2012.

Deputy Inspector Anthony Tasso said the precinct is off to a much better start than last year after finishing 11 percent up in crime-mostly robberies. Bushwick is down 17 percent in crime so far this year and 32 percent this month, according to Tasso, who attributed the progress to the take down of a gang recently.

“It’s not an accident; it’s a tribute to some real good police work,” Tasso said.

Police officers busted members of the gang TBO, or True Bosses Only, in December, arresting 41 individuals, and most of them are still incarcerated, Tasso noted.

The area was averaging 10 residential burglaries a week, according to Tasso, but officers arrested two individuals last month whom Tasso believes were responsible for 50-60 burglaries dating back to late October.

“We had some good evidence on some of them,” Tasso said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough to charge them with all 60 of them. We had enough to charge them with six of them.”

Since then, burglaries have plummeted, Tasso noted, with one burglary of a commercial vehicle occurring last week, and just two the week prior.

One crime that has gone unsolved in the area is the murder of Akeal Christopher last summer. Natasha Christopher, the boy’s mother, reminded Tasso at the meeting of a promise he made to her to bring justice to the case by finding out who did it.

Tasso, receiving support for his efforts from many attendees, said the case is still under investigation and assured Christopher that an effort is still being made.

“Whatever promise I made to you still stands,” he responded.

Brooklyn Bike Patrol

Claiming that witnessing a woman being harassed at a subway station in Brooklyn on television changed his life, Jay Ruiz described a group he created afterward to the Bushwick community.

The Brooklyn Bike Patrol is a free service dedicated to making the women of Brooklyn feel safe as they travel through various Brooklyn neighborhoods during the evening. Women can call Ruiz seven days a week to schedule to be met at one of the 58 train stops the group services or anywhere in the following Brooklyn neighborhoods including Park Slope, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Sunset Park, Bushwick, Red Hook, among others.

He then dispatches one of the volunteers who have cleared a background check conducted by the police department. The group’s hours of operation are Sunday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to midnight and Fridays and Saturdays from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.

Including the mandatory background check, there are other set rules: no dating, and no taking tips. A volunteer can be spotted wearing a neon-yellow T-shirt that reads Brooklyn Bike Patrol and s picture ID around his neck.

To be picked up, call Ruiz at 1- 718-744-7592. For more information, go to www.facebook.com/ brooklynbikepatrol.

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The 83rd Precinct Community Council meetings are usually held on the third Tuesday of every month inside the station, located at 480 Knickerbocker Ave.

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