Discussions on the topic of a drop box in the community for prescription drugs have not yet come to a conclusion.
The idea has risen again among city of Brookfield officials after a legislative referral by Alderman Scott Berg late last year.
At the most recent meeting of the city's Human Resources & Public Safety Committee, the topic was discussed but no decision was made in regard to the city's future plans.
Alderman Bob Reddin, who chairs the committee, felt that despite the fact that the topic was held over, the meeting was productive.
"It was a tremendously good meeting with intelligent discussion on both sides," Reddin said. "It was what government is supposed to be."
City officials are weighing on three possible options at this point, including continuing to rely on drop boxes outside of the community and installing a box at the city's police department.
The third option would count on Walgreens to provide drug drop boxes at one of its locations in Brookfield. The company recently announced plans to install medical disposal kiosks in more than 500 of its stores across 39 states. It is unclear at this time which stores in the area will receive those drop boxes.
"Both the mayor and myself have been in frequent contact with various different representatives from Walgreens trying to pin them down on what their plans were and they don't know yet," Reddin said.
Reddin is hopeful that Walgreens either elects to place a drop box at one of its Brookfield locations or at least at a location in a neighboring community.
"Perhaps more realistically, I think drop boxes will be placed at 24-hour Walgreens that sort of surround Brookfield," Reddin said. "There's one in Wauwatosa at Highway 100 and North Ave. and there's one in New Berlin."
A press release from Walgreens in February stated that the disposal kiosks would indeed be "primarily at locations open 24 hours."
"The program will make the disposal of medications — including opioids and other controlled substances — easier and more convenient while helping to reduce the misuse of medications and the rise in overdose deaths," the release said.
Reddin and some other city officials have been hesitant to pursue having the city add its own drop box due to the related expenses.
In February, Brookfield Assistant Chief of Police Dean Collins addressed a letter to Chief Dan Tushaus, which was then forwarded on to the committee, regarding research he had done into the topic.
"This matter may seem uncomplicated; however, it presents a clear choice in the alternative use of scarce public resources and ultimately whether this matter would be more appropriately dealt with by Waukesha County or the private sector, particularly pharmaceutical companies," Collins wrote.
Collins estimated that the first year cost for installing a drug collection box would be between $18,562 and $18,862, with annual costs of between $17,362 and $17,662 to follow.
"I think that raises some concerns as to whether or not we want to spend additional tax money adding one that is actually in the city of Brookfield," Reddin said. "Taxpayers already pay for the county one."
In addition, the letter also emphasizes that the police department does not have space to store drugs that are dropped off.
"We have no space available to store discarded drugs in our evidence holding room," Collins wrote. "Our current evidence storage capacity is maxed out."
Collins and the human resources and public safety committee made note of a case in Alameda County, California, which saw an ordinance passed in 2012 that required pharmaceutical manufacturers to support drug takeback programs, including those in local drug stores.
Reddin said that the city has discussed the possibility of taking similar action if Walgreens does not elect to place a disposal kiosk in the community.
"We've instructed our city attorney to look into that option and look into the wording should we decide that's an option we want to pursue," Reddin said. "I think there was some concern about that too, whether government ought to be forcing private businesses to do things."