AUGUSTA — City Police are organizing a workshop aimed at stemming the growing problem of pharmacy robberies.

Roughly two dozen pharmacies statewide have been robbed of prescription medication this year, which matches the total for all of last year. At least five of those hold-ups have occurred in Augusta.

Augusta police, who have made arrests in all of the city’s pharmacy robberies thus far, hope the August workshop will give pharmacists tools to reduce the number of robberies and will equip them to respond when they occur.

“We’re hoping it opens the lines of communications between us and the pharmacies,” said Detective Sgt. Matthew Clark of the Augusta Police Department. “It’s to get us all on the same page.”

The one-hour workshop on guidelines for addressing pharmacy robberies is an opportunity for pharmacy and medical workers to take part in a discussion, learn how to reduce the likelihood of a robbery and how to help police in the event of a robbery, Clark said. The slide show and discussion includes information on what motivates robbers and what to do before, during and after a robbery.

Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey developed the program earlier this year and offered it for the first time in May.

“They had a lot of positive feedback,” Clark said.

Waterville Deputy Chief Charles Rumsey said that positive feedback came from both the pharmacists who attended the training and law enforcement community. He said police departments across the state have called seeking information on offering the workshop in their areas.

“I would say it was very successful,” Rumsey said.

He said there can be a general feeling of helplessness among those who work in pharmacies and stores that carry prescription medication.

“I think it’s comforting for folks to have a plan in place,” Rumsey said. “I think that’s been a big part of the draw for this program.”

Clark said flyers have gone out to pharmacies in Augusta, but he said the workshop is open to anyone who deals with prescription medication as part of their job. That includes those who work in the home health care industry, Clark said.

The workshop is scheduled for 9 a.m., on Wednesday, Aug. 22, in the lecture hall at Augusta City Center.

Craig Crosby — 621-5642

[email protected]

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