West Michigan Pharmacists Unite To Fight Crime

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MUSKEGON, Mich. (Feb. 19, 2014) – Criminals in Muskegon County have been put on notice; pharmacies are teaming up with law enforcement agencies to catch them in the act.

It’s a program that has shown results before and now Ken Fagerman, the person responsible for bringing this partnership to West Michigan, is hoping to duplicate that success.

“People will try just about anything and everything to obtain narcotics illicitly,” Fagerman said.  “Forging prescriptions, stolen prescription pads are some of the most common techniques.”

Others are more brazen, committing armed robbery or breaking into pharmacies after hours to get their hands on pills.  As a pharmacist Fagerman said he has had his life threatened on the job, something most pharmacists don’t sign up for.

“The level of violence has steadily increased and that is why we find a need for these types of programs and help pharmacists protect themselves,” he said.

He’s also the man behind Muskegon’s new program which pairs pharmacists in Muskegon County with police.  A program he started in Indiana back in 2012 when that state led the nation for pharmacy armed robberies.

“But in South Bend Indiana, and the program I started with police there, we had none,” said Fagerman.

Here’s how it works; if a pharmacist notices someone trying to pass a fake prescription they can alert others, like a hotline for area pharmacists.  The plan has been in place for years but recently Muskegon County law enforcement were invited in on the conversation and crimes are being solved.

Police said in the past three months, they’ve made three arrests for people trying to get pills with fake prescriptions.  Fagerman hopes to take this program nationwide.  He said once criminals become aware that certain cities are using this program they will typically take their criminal activity to another community that doesn’t track behavior.  His theory, if everyone is on board the criminals will have nowhere to hide.

If you would like to know more about the person behind the program, Fagerman wrote ‘Staring Down the Barrel: A Pharmacists’ Guide To Diversion and Coping with Robbery’. 

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