Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn: Saving Lives with Naloxone
(credit: North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition)

Reducing the time between the opioid overdose symptoms and effective intervention is a matter of life and death. Tragically, many victims do not receive timely medical attention. In many cases, witnesses delay calling for help because they do not recognize opioid overdose symptoms or are concerned about getting in trouble with the law. In other cases, emergency medical response may take too long to arrive or the victim may not be discovered until it is too late.

Naloxone only works on overdoses caused by opioids. This family of drugs includes prescription painkillers like OxyContin, fentanyl, methadone, and Vicodin, as well as street drugs like heroin. Naloxone will not reverse overdose resulting from non-opioid drugs, like cocaine, benzodiazepines (“benzos”), or alcohol. Given how safe naloxone is, a victim of a non-opioid overdose, or an overdose caused by a mixture of drugs will not be harmed by naloxone. In multiple drug overdoses (e.g., an opioid and a benzodiazepine) it is still worth administering naloxone as it will remove the effects of the opioid and may still reverse the overdose.

Law enforcement overdose reversal programs are designed to teach law enforcement officers to recognize and reverse an active opioid overdose using naloxone. The idea is that providing law enforcement with the knowledge and the tools to reverse overdoses in the field can reduce the time between when an opioid overdose victim is discovered and when they receive lifesaving assistance. Law enforcement overdose rescue programs are similar to the already widespread efforts to train police in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). See a list of existing law enforcement overdose response programs.

Resources:

Expanded Access to Naloxone

Date: 
Jun, 2014
Resource Type: 

Provides an overview of policy changes in Massachusetts where several communities have equipped emergency medical technicians, law enforcement officers, and firefighters with naloxone.

Law Enforcement and Naloxone Utilization in the United States

Date: 
Jun, 2015
Resource Type: 

The document is a presentation the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition gave to the Food and Drug Administration and shares information about U.S. law enforcement naloxone programs; North Carolina law enforcement naloxone programs and their attitudes toward carrying naloxone; EMS and law enforcement cooperation to decrease overdose mortality; implementation of naloxone programs; and more.

Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn: Saving Lives with Narcan

Date: 
Jun, 2012
Resource Type: 

Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn, Commander of the Special Investigations/Narcotics Unit of the Quincy, MA, Police Department, shares some impressive results where opioid overdose deaths have been greatly reduced by officers carrying naloxone, or Narcan. This video was recorded at the Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit, coordinated by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, June 12, 2012, in Raleigh, NC.

Below are a few example law enforcement agencies that have overdose response programs:

Quincy, MA, Police Department

The Quincy, MA, Police Department (QPD) launched its law enforcement overdose reversal program in 2010. Created in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, this initiative consisted of training patrol officers how to recognize and reverse opioid overdoses, and equipping them with naloxone. As of October 2015, QPD officers have reversed over 436 opioid overdoses. This program has been widely recognized for its contribution to the fight against the overdose epidemic, and has served as a model for a growing number of law enforcement overdose reversal initiatives across the United States.

Suffolk County (NY) Police Department

Example: In May 2012, the Suffolk County (NY) Police Department began a Narcan Pilot program in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health, initially training 400 officers in several precincts. In the first five months there were 32 opioid overdose (OOD) reversals. Because of this unanticipated success, the Narcan program was quickly expanded to the entire patrol and support divisions. As of October 2015, more than 1,300 officers are certified and there have been 390 successful OOD reversals. In April 2014, the New York State Attorney General, Eric T. Schneiderman, recognized the outstanding success of the Suffolk County Police Narcan Program, which he used as a model for implementation to all law enforcement agencies in the state of New York, an effort currently funded by his office.

Lummi Nation Police Department (WA)

In response to the increase in the number of reported overdose deaths on tribal lands and 20-minute ambulance response times, the Lummi Nation Police Department (WA) requested permission to participate in the overdose prevention program sponsored by the Lummi Nation Tribe. The program trained community members to use naloxone as well as 20 officers in the department and command staff. In the first six weeks of the program, Lummi officers successfully reversed three overdoses. In addition to training the remaining Lummi officers, the Lummi Nation Police Department training is growing to encompass Lummi Housing Security and neighboring First Nations police agencies.

Resources:

Law Enforcement and Naloxone Utilization in the United States

Date: 
Jun, 2015
Resource Type: 

The document is a presentation the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition gave to the Food and Drug Administration and shares information about U.S. law enforcement naloxone programs; North Carolina law enforcement naloxone programs and their attitudes toward carrying naloxone; EMS and law enforcement cooperation to decrease overdose mortality; implementation of naloxone programs; and more.

Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn: Saving Lives with Narcan

Date: 
Jun, 2012
Resource Type: 

Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn, Commander of the Special Investigations/Narcotics Unit of the Quincy, MA, Police Department, shares some impressive results where opioid overdose deaths have been greatly reduced by officers carrying naloxone, or Narcan. This video was recorded at the Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit, coordinated by the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, June 12, 2012, in Raleigh, NC.

New York Department of Criminal Justice Services Officer Interview

Date: 
May, 2014
Resource Type: 

New York Police Department (NYPD) Officers speaking of their experience using and administering naloxone to prevent fatal opioid overdoses. Film by Joshua Vinehout, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services.

Ocean County, NJ, Police Get Drug Overdose Antidote

Date: 
Feb, 2014
Contributor: 
Resource Type: 

 

Ocean County police officers learned how to administer the medication naloxone to temporarily reverse the effects of a narcotic overdose. Video courtesy of NJTV news and the Ocean County, NJ, Prosecutor's Office.

There are a number of collateral benefits to the officers, implementing agencies, as well as to the public at large that are associated with implementing a law enforcement overdose response program. First and foremost, the program can lead to the reversal of possibly fatal overdoses in the community. Additionally, individual officers have cited improved job satisfaction rooted in improved ability to “do something” at the scene of an overdose. Implementing departments report improved community relations, leading to better intelligence-gathering capabilities. Similarly, collaboration between law enforcement, public health, drug treatment, and other sectors on law enforcement overdose response initiatives lead to improved cross-agency communication, and helps take a public health approach to drug abuse.

Resources:

A Heroin Epidemic and Changing Attitudes Towards Marijuana

Date: 
Aug, 2014
Resource Type: 

The summary of the Police Executive Research Forum’s National Summit on Illegal Drugs, held on April 16, 2014, in Washington, DC, which focused on two major issues: the growing epidemic of prescription opioid and heroin abuse and the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington State (as well as medical marijuana in many other jurisdictions).

Rhode Island State Police Administration Press Release

Date: 
May, 2014
Resource Type: 

Sample law enforcement agency press release for saving an overdose victim after using naloxone.

Some labor unions may consider opioid overdose response and associated training as a change in work conditions or an additional duty, raising the possibility of contract renegotiation. Collective bargaining unit representatives should be consulted early in the process and given the opportunity to address personnel and occupational safety concerns. Agencies concerned about collective bargaining issues can make officer participation in overdose reversal a voluntary activity. Additionally, some union representatives conditioned their agreement on the agency’s explicit policy not to discipline officers if their agency-supplied naloxone kit is lost or stolen.