Should police officers be responsible for saving overdose victims? | The Tylt
Should police officers be responsible for saving overdose victims?
One side thinks we should do everything we can to save lives. Police officers are typically the first to get on scene with an overdose. They should be given the tools to reverse overdoses—naloxone and narcan—so they can save lives. No matter what you think, addicts are people and do not deserve to die. It's that simple.
Butler County is an outlier among police departments. There are naloxone programs for police officers in 38 states, according to the Bureau of Justice Assistance. The opioid epidemic continues to grow and people will continue to die. Police are in the business of saving lives, so they should equip themselves with the antidote that lets them save lives.
“It’s not just the opioid users themselves that we are protecting,” said Keith Cain, the sheriff in Daviess County, Ky., and the chairman of bureau’s Drug Enforcement Committee. “What about the child who gets into mommy’s or daddy’s stash?”
Police officers are trained to do a very specific task—to maintain safety and enforce the law. There's only so much time for training and so many resources for equipment. Prioritizing the safety of overdose victims, on top of everything else, would be an inefficient use of limited resources—especially when other trained personnel are already equipped to do so.
The debate about law enforcement officers caring anti-opioid medication should not be an argument over the value of human life. Instead, each individual community needs to decide if they want their police officers to be highly skilled and capable of handling the emergencies only police can handle, or more of a general handyman who can do a little bit of everything without being excellent at any one task.
Others are frustrated that opioid addicts continue to abuse drugs and overdose repeatedly. There's a sense that antidotes are enabling people. It gives people the idea that overdoses are actually not that deadly and can be easily reversed. If there are no consequences, there are fewer reasons to get clean.
“I’ve had three babies born in my jail in 18 months, and the last one was born in the toilet,” said Jones, noting that the female population in the Butler County jail more than doubled in recent years because of drug-related offenses. “The judges, to save the babies, sentence the mothers to jail. But when the women get here, they induce labor so they can get back out and do more heroin.”