Ontario Police Now Have An Additional Tool When it Comes to Fighting Opioids
The Ontario government has announced that they are equipping police with an additional resource when it comes to fighting the growing concern of opioid addiction.
Community Safety Minister Sylvia Jones announced that the government is allowing police officers to carry and administer naloxone in response to opioid overdoses like other first responders, who do not have to worry about routinely being the subject of a criminal investigation.
“No one should face unfair repercussions just because they are doing their job and trying to save a life,” said Jones. “This amendment will enable police officers to carry out their duties without fear of facing a criminal investigation, but more importantly, it will also help save countless lives.”
The province has done this by amending an existing regulation under the Police Services Act. Previously, police have been required to report to and be investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in an incident in which a civilian dies after naloxone is administered.
With this change, Chiefs of Police will no longer be required to automatically notify SIU when a police officer has administered naloxone or other emergency first aid to a person who dies or suffers a serious injury, provided there was no other interaction that could have caused the death or serious injury.
Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose (examples are fentanyl, oxycodone and heroin) if used within a short period following an opioid overdose. It is now being carried by many police officers for use in opioid overdose or apparent opioid overdoses.
“As first responders, police provide critical life-saving treatment to individuals in crisis,” said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. “This amendment under the Police Services Act provides fairness to police officers and will allow for a more efficient and effective use of investigative resources.”
Police officers will now be on par with other emergency first responders--such as paramedics or firefighters--who can carry and administer naloxone but are not subject to the same level of oversight.
“During the election campaign, we promised to support our police officers and fix the province’s broken policing legislation. Today’s announcement is one of the first steps,” said Jones. “We will continue working with our policing partners to keep our communities safe while respecting the work our frontline police officers do each and every day.”
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