In an article in today’s Huffington Post Michael Bottecelli the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy or Drug Czar has the following to say about community policing and drug overdoses. Included in his remarks is this paragraph talking about what we do here in Lake County.
“There is also collaboration taking place in rural and suburban communities. In Illinois, the Lake County State’s Attorney has partnered with various county agencies, including the Lake County Health Department; drug courts; police and fire departments; health, advocacy and prevention organizations; and local pharmacies to develop and implement an opioid overdose prevention plan. As of February 2015, the Lake County Health Department had trained 828 police officers and 200 sheriff’s deputies to carry and administer naloxone, and more departments have requested this training.”
What follows is the article in context.
Community Policing and Drug Overdose: Where You Live Doesn’t Have to Determine Whether You Survive an Overdose
The odds of surviving a drug overdose, much like the odds of surviving a heart attack, depend on how quickly the victim receives treatment. But access to naloxone — which can reverse heroin and prescription drug overdoses — varies greatly across the country, even though all drug poisoning deaths have surpassed traffic crashes as the most lethal cause of preventable injury. Because police are often the first on the scene of an overdose, the Obama Administration has strongly encouraged local law enforcement agencies to train and equip their personnel with naloxone.
Yesterday, the President traveled to Camden, New Jersey, a city that’s taken steps to create economic opportunity, help police do their jobs more safely, and reduce crime in the process. Yet another area where the Camden County Police Department is taking the right steps is with its creation of an overdose prevention program. This program has reversed 68 overdoses since it started a year ago. Across New Jersey, law enforcement officers have used naloxone to respond to overdoses 888 times since 2014.
By engaging with law enforcement in naloxone administration, we are truly pursuing a 21st-century approach to drug policy and community policing — one that combines public health with public safety.
Recently I met Corporal Nicholas Tackett, a police officer from Anne Arundel County in Maryland. Corporal Tackett has witnessed about 50 drug-related overdoses in his law enforcement career.
He knows the signs of overdose, the looks on their faces. Now, with naloxone, he has a tool that enables him to save lives. Corporal Tackett brought me to the locations where his use of naloxone reversed the life-threatening overdoses of two people. Naloxone works, and it is an incredibly important tool.