Cops struggle with overdose epidemic E-mail
Written by Mark Nichols   

Unless you’ve been out of the country or in a coma, you might have heard something about a nationwide heroin epidemic. As is usually the case there are all kinds of theories. For law enforcement professionals the challenge now is saving people that would otherwise O.D. by administering a new drug called Narcan.

For people like Brockton, Massachusetts Police Chief Robert Hayden it’s all about the overdoses and preventing more deaths.

According to local media reports Brockton had a run of five suspected overdose deaths in just two weeks.

Like many other officials dealing with the heroin epidemic, Hayden is hoping for movement on proposals for law enforcement officers to carry and administer Narcan - a drug that miraculously reverses the symptoms of a heroin overdose.

As for the chemistry involved in the large number of overdose deaths, some say that the heroin on the streets might be laced with a powerful painkiller called fentanyl. That’s a drug prescribed to terminally ill cancer patients.

Hayden is a no-nonsense lawman but believes that the enormity of the public health crisis calls for a more innovative approach than the typical response.

“The posture that we’re taking right now is that we have to save lives,” Hayden told reporters with the Brockton Enterprise. “We care about every person in this city that’s got a drug problem and we’re not in an arrest-mode. We’re not looking to arrest people. We’re looking to save lives. We will arrest people to save their lives but our focus now is help.”

Hayden said he’s been in discussions with the president of the Brockton patrolmen’s union and the two agree that officers should be equipped with the drug Narcan, a brand name of the drug naloxone, which reverses the effects of a heroin overdose.

Hayden said he hoped training would begin and cops will have the ability to carry and administer Narcan soon.

“The police usually get there before anybody else. So once they’re trained in how to use it, I think it will make an important contribution to someone staying alive,” Hayden said.

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