After Deaths, L.I. Officials Implement Pharmacy Safety Program

The effort comes after several deadly pharmacy robberies.

By Greg Cergol
|  Monday, Jan 9, 2012  |  Updated 10:12 PM EDT
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After violent incidents at Long Island pharmacies last year, officials are taking action to prevent it from happening at drugstores. Greg Cergol reports.

NBC New York

After violent incidents at Long Island pharmacies last year, officials are taking action to prevent it from happening at drugstores. Greg Cergol reports.

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New steps designed to keep local pharmacies safe were unveiled by police on Long Island Monday, in the wake of several deadly robberies.

Since June, six people, including an ATF agent, have been killed during drug store robberies in Medford and Seaford.

Robbers in both cases were seeking prescription painkillers.

The safety initiative, according to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, is a partnership between police and officials from the pharmaceutical firm, Purdue Pharma.

So far, 60 Suffolk police narcotics officers have received specialized training on how to combat abuse of prescription medications.  Pharmacy owners will also receive direction on how to safeguard their businesses, according to Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber.

In addition, police have increased their Crime Stoppers reward to $5,000 for information leading to arrests in prescription drug robbery cases.

Michael Nastro, who owns a pharmacy in Port Jefferson Station, has outfitted his business with surveillance cameras, silent alarms, and at times, armed guards.

"At this point, I feel I need to take every necessary precaution," said Nastro.

Nastro himself has even applied for a pistol permit.

"Being armed is just part of the landscape right now," he said.

Arming pharmacy owners may not be the best answer, said Webber. He did urge homeowners to dispose of unused medication at drop-off boxes now available at every Suffolk police precinct.

Unused drugs at home are a danger, according to Suffolk county legislator Kara Hahn. 

"Each pill goes for $40 on the street," said Hahn.  "More home burglars are looking to empty your medicine cabinet rather than your jewelry box."

"It's really pathetic that people are looking to kill for these drugs," said pharmacy customer Antoinette Sabatino, who admitted to being on her guard when visiting local pharmacies.

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