KAWARTHA LAKES- Kawartha Lakes Police Chief, John Hagarty says his officers will not be carrying Naloxone for use on the public for the foreseeable future. “My thought is that the issuing or the use of naloxone should be done by the paramedic service, possibly by our medical response with fire,” Hagarty says. “I don’t believe that it’s necessary within my policing jurisdiction and the response time of the paramedics for us to be administering naloxone.”
The Chief was updating the Police Services Board on the issue of Naloxone after the Province recently gave to go ahead for front line officers to carry the life saving medication, if their Police Chief and boards make that decision. Naloxone is a temporary antidote to an fentanyl or other opioid overdose. The Province says opioid related overdose deaths have jumped more than 50% over the summer.
Some local officers have been issued Naloxone to protect officers during specific types of investigations. “We have done a naloxone issue, partially at least, in our identification area, in our sergeants office, in criminal investigations, if they are going in to do a search warrant they will have naloxone wth them,” Hagarty explained. “Mainly in case there is cross contamination if they (the officers) are coming into contact with a drug that Naloxone will assist with.” Local officers have also been given masks, gloves to prevent inhalation or contact with the deadly drugs as well as additional training on holding them.
Hagarty says equipping front line officers with Naloxone could blur the lines between police and paramedics and it comes with some added liabilities. “There are some liabilities you need to be aware of.” Hagarty explained to the board. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU)still isn’t clear whether they will investigate if a police officer administers Naloxone and that person dies, the SUI is of of the view today that they would bring the SIU into investigating that.” Hagarty says that isn’t the case when a when police administer CPR. “There’s no SIU investigation because they were trying to save a life.” SUI investigations come with increase costs to the police service.
Under current legislation, the SUI is mandated to investigate a police officer who is involved in a death, injury or assault of a member of the public and that could include unsuccessful life-saving measures such as using naloxone.
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police conducted a study of 35 police services and found that naloxone kits were used 45 times since January. 43 people were successfully revived from overdoses. The Globe and Mail reported the SIU was unable to confirm whether the officers involved in the two unsuccessful cases were investigated.
Waterloo Regional Police say Naloxone has been used six times on its officers and 17 times on members of the public who were believed to be in contact with fentanyl.
But some large police services are refusing to ask officers to administer the drug to the public as well. Hamilton Police say they have studied the issue and feel paramedics are better equipped to administer Naloxone to the public. They also cite the liability for officers.
Front Line officers with The Kawartha Lakes OPP have been issued Naloxone. Hagarty says thats understandable given the rural area they police and the response times could be greater.
Hagarty says they have meetings set up with local paramedics and fire as well as the OPP to discuss the topic and he’s not completely closing the door on it in the future.