USA Today Profiles Law Enforcement Who Carry Naloxone
Police carry special drug to reverse heroin overdoses
This article highlights the benefit of having law enforcement carry naloxone, the importance of 911 Good Sam Laws and features the law enforcement leaders Pat Glynn (Quincy PD) and Eric Garcia (Espanola PD).
If you department would like to set up a naloxone program, please contact our program staff. NCHRC provides free technical assistance to law enforcement.
Law Enforcement Voices
Law Enforcement Supports Harm Reduction
“I support syringe exchange programs as a common sense tactic to address the issue of drug use in our communities. It’s clear to me that these programs do not encourage drug use and that they can work in conjunction with the continuing enforcement of drug
Chief Harold Medlock, Fayetteville Police Department
“I’m in favor of syringe exchange programs to reduce the number of HIV and hepatitis C cases in the community. This is a public health issue. These programs would help the citizens of our state [who struggle with addiction] and protect others from injuries with dirty needles.”
Chief Marty Sumner, High Point Police Department
“Anyone who supports naloxone as a tool to save lives should support syringe exchange programs as well. They both give people a second chance. I would support having a syringe exchange program in my county, especially if people get treatment information.”
Sheri Doug Doughtie, Dare County Sheriff’s Office
“Over the past few years, we have seen a tragic surge in deaths due to opioid overdose. Along with the escalation of injectable drugs comes the increased opportunity for needle sticks. With preventative measures such as improving syringe access, we are protecting the health and safety of law enforcement officers. Of course, I support any measures to keep our officers safe.”
Sheri Neil Elks, Pitt County Sheriff’s Office
“I used to be an officer in a city in Connecticut that ran an active, successful syringe exchange program. I saw first hand that the program reduced the number of dirty syringes in circulation and the number of accidental needle-sticks suffered by first responders. Syringe exchange programs are a good way for those dealing with addiction to avoid diseases and to get information on treatment options.”
Chief John Cueto, Town of Duck Police Department
“Law enforcement has been at the front lines of the drug problem and has witnessed the devastating effects of drug use and abuse. We are currently seeing more and more people use heroin, more people inject prescription drugs, and more people get sick from diseases like HIV and Hepatitis C. Although the enforcement of drug laws is and always will be an integral part of police work, we also realize that we will not solely arrest our way out of this problem. I support syringe exchange programs because they are shown to lower the rates of disease and help connect drug users to the treatment they need to combat this epidemic.”
Chief Bill Hollingsed, Waynesville Police Department
“I would support syringe exchange programs that provide treatment information to those participating. I can see the advantages of a program that reduces disease transmission passed from people sharing dirty needles and also cuts down on the number of people and first responders accidentally stuck with infected needles.”
Chief Joseph Barone, Statesville Police Department
“I am in favor of syringe exchange programs and see no downside or negative consequences connected to these programs. By providing clean needles, a syringe exchange program would increase officer safety and benefit communities that have individuals working through problems that pertain to an addiction”.
Chief Barry Rountree, Winston Salem Police Department
“I support changing NC law to allow syringe exchange programs. Law Enforcement is about saving lives and making a difference: syringe exchange programs do both. The benefits of such programs exceed the harm. They reduce the spread of disease, unnecessary discarding of used needles, and the sharing of needles. It also provides an opportunity to speak with drug users about life changing alternatives.”
Chief Joe Ramey, Gaston County Police Department
“As an advocate for public safety and rehabilitation, I see syringe exchange programs as an exciting opportunity to reach out to drug users with education that could increase the chances of them getting help, including rehabilitation.”
Sheriff Greg Christopher, Haywood County Sheriff’s Office
“I never envisioned myself supporting a syringe exchange program, but I now understand that ultimately it comes down to public safety and public health. I certainly now have a very different opinion of syringe exchange programs.”
Sheriff John Ingram, Brunswick County Sheriffs Office
“From a health standpoint, I am all for getting syringes to people who need them. I don’t see much of a down side. Some might say that these programs encourage drug use, but I think that people who say that simply don’t understand the power and pull of opiates.”
Chief Tom Bashore, Nashville Police Department
As the opioid drug problem worsens, we need to start thinking outside the box when it comes to solutions. Syringe exchange programs would not only address the HIV and hepatitis C epidemic, but also provide wraparound services to address the drug problem at
Chief Brad Shirley, Boiling Spring Lakes Police Department
“Syringe exchange programs make good sense. I support efforts to prevent young people and children from suffering accidental sticks and developing HIV or hepatitis C. I also like that these programs would offer access to treatment.”
Chief Chris Hunt, Bladenboro Police Department
“I can’t see how anyone could be against syringe exchange programs. Syringes are a public safety issue and exchange programs would cut down on the number of cases of HIV and hepatitis C. They would also reduce first responder’s exposure to needle-stick injury and
connect subjects to treatment resources during contact with the exchange.”
Chief Kevin Brinkley, Nags Head Police Department
“I fully support the syringe exchange program. The program would improve officer safety and improve safety for our children. This program would eliminate the danger of discarded syringes in our public parks and other places that our citizens frequent.”
Chief Mike James, Leland Police Department
“I would support syringe exchange programs that provide treatment information to those participating. I can see the advantages of a program that reduces disease transmission passed from people sharing dirty needles and also cuts down on the number of people and first responders accidentally stuck with infected needles.
Chief Vance Haskett, Manteo Police Department
Syringe exchange programs make a lot of sense. I’m especially supportive of connecting people to drug treatment through these programs. I wish we had a syringe exchange here in Lenoir.
Chief Scott Brown, Lenoir Police Department
“Syringe Decriminalization takes dirty needles off the streets by allowing drug users and diabetics to dispose of syringes legally and therefore increases the safety of our police officers. Syringe Decriminalization saves money and lives, protects law enforcement from needlesticks, and increases public safety. Scientific research strongly supports this policy, as do many in law enforcement. Now is the time to lift legal barriers to decriminalizing syringes.”
Bob Scott, former Captain with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office
“Getting stuck by a needle was one of the scariest moments of my career…I believe a combination of harm reduction programs and syringe decriminalization will make a vast difference in the lives of law enforcement officers. I think officers need to know how to safely handle paraphernalia and needles. They need to know when to wear gloves and when to take extra precautions.” – Jen “Crash” Earls, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.
“The first law of law enforcement is to come home safe at the end of the day.”
Captain Sonny Leeper, Police Captain. Albuquerque Police Department
“One Needlestick to any North Carolina Officer is one too many. Law Enforcement and the communities they serve need to rise up to demand support for syringe decriminalization, which can reduce needlesticks to Law Enforcement by 66%.”
Robert Childs, NCHRC Executive Director, Concord, NC, Police Department Training, December 2011
“Drug addiction is a serious problem, but I believe in helping people. Harm reduction is a win-win situation because not only do these programs help protect officers from needlesticks, they also create an opportunity for dialogue that can lead to rehabilitation for drug users. It’s important for officers to see themselves as part of creating solutions to community issues, and not just booking crimes.”
– Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D.A. Jackson officer in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department for 18 years.
“I’ve been stuck by needles and cut by broken crack pipes and razors while on duty. We had to search people so quickly, it was easy to touch something dangerous. If one of us got stuck, we might report it to a superior officer so he could write an exposure report, or we might not. I never sought treatment for needlesticks because we were supposed to be tough guys, you know. We’d get cut and move on.”
– Jen “Crash” Earls, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.
“One of the main components of a law enforcement officer’s job is to conduct searches. We search people, homes, vehicles, and storage compartments; we stick our hands in places most people wouldn’t think to touch, and in every search we are at risk for needle-sticks and contracting infectious diseases. I support harm reduction programs because I’ll advocate for anything that protects my life and the lives of my fellow officers.”
-Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D.A. Jackson has served in law enforcement for over 26 years, 18 in the Guilford County Sheriff’s Department, and she supports harm reduction.
“Syringe decriminalization is good in that they help reduce risks for police officers when they go out on calls. I personally do not believe that syringe decriminalization increase drug use but make officers safer. This would also be an important health improvement for our communities, because syringe decriminalization is proven to decrease HIV and viral hepatitis B & C .”
– Cynthia Sullivan, Victim Assistance Coordinator, Police Department, Winston-Salem, N.C., January 2012
“Several years ago we had an outbreak of hepatitis from sharing syringes. Hepatitis C costs over $100,000 to treat and over $400,000 if it requires a liver transplant, thus it was a great expense to the state and the taxpayers of Macon County. Syringe Decriminalization could of prevented these costs by providing injection drug users syringe access, encouraged them to safely dispose of their dirty needles off the streets and increase the safety of our police officers.”
– Bob Scott, former Captain with the Macon County Sheriff’s Office.
“Officers in areas with harm reduction programs are safer because even if they accidently get stuck by a needle during searches, that needle is less likely to be infected with a disease. I get it. Unfortunately many cops have tunnel vision. They think only of stopping illegal activity, not about how the illegality of something might affect public health.”
– Jeff Riorden, former police officer residing in Durham, North Carolina.
“Based upon the literature that’s been presented to me, Syringe Decriminalization would not appear to increase crime and/or drug abuse, but rather greatly enhance officer and public safety.”
– Cpl/Deputy Sheriff D. A. Jackson, Background Investigator, Guildford County Sheriff’s Office, Greensboro, N.C., March 2011
NC Law Enforcement Attitudes Towards Syringe Decriminalization
STUDY SAYS NC LAW ENFORCEMENT SUPPORT CHANGING SYRINGE LAWS
82% of respondents reported that they were very concerned about contracting HIV on the job and 3.8% reported ever receiving a job-related needle-stick injury. These injuries typically occur when an officer conducts a search and is accidentally pierced by a syringe, which may be contaminated with HIV or viral hepatitis. A study of law enforcement officers in Connecticut revealed that decriminalizing syringes can lower needle-stick injury to officers by 66% because it removes a suspect’s fear of syringe possession and increases the likelihood that they will tell officers they have syringes before being searched.
The majority of officers in the North Carolina study reported positive views regarding syringe decriminalization, with approximately 63% agreeing that it would be “good for the community” and 60% agreeing that it would be “good for law enforcement.”
The study’s lead author, Corey Davis, JD, MSPH, an attorney with the Network for Public Health Law says, “Syringe decriminalization is good policy. Since law enforcement opinion carries a lot of weight in the legislature, this study suggests that it’s good politics as well.”
The study emerges after the passage of a new law in North Carolina that partially decriminalized syringes. The law, which went into effect in December 2013, states that a person cannot be charged with the possession of a syringe or other sharp object if he or she declares the object to law enforcement prior to a search.
“I would rather every addict come out and admit to having a needle than for one person not to tell the truth and have one of our officers get stuck,” says Sgt David Rose of the Winston Salem Police Department.
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NCHRC Testimony at the Police Executive Research Forum on Naloxone
NCHRC was recently featured Police Executive Research Forum on Naloxone
To read their full report, go to the following link: CLICK HERE
Robert Childs, MPH, Executive Director,
North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition:
Naloxone Is Safe, Inexpensive, and Easy for Officers to Use
NC Harm Reduction Coalition (NCHRC) is North Carolina’s only comprehensive harm reduction program. NCHRC engages in grassroots advocacy, resource development, coalition building and direct services for law enforcement and those made vulnerable by drug use, overdose, HIV and hepatitis. Harm reduction is a way of preventing disease and promoting health that “meets people where they are” rather than making judgments about where they should be in terms of their personal health and lifestyle.
By accepting that not everyone is ready or able to stop risky or illegal behavior, harm reduction focuses on promoting scientifically proven ways of mitigating health risks associated with drug use and other high risk behaviors, including condom distribution, access to sterile syringes, and access to naloxone. We work with law enforcement, public health agencies, service providers and people who use illegal and prescription drugs.
Currently we’re working in Georgia and North Carolina to help law enforcement officers implement needlestick prevention measures and overdose prevention programs that equip officers with the opioid overdose reversal medication, naloxone (Narcan).
Naloxone is actually a relatively cheap medication. NCHRC passes out Intramuscular naloxone, which costs under $12 per Overdose Prevention Kit. Intranasal naloxone works just as well and is used by the majority of the 68+ law enforcement departments that carry naloxone in the US. The intranasal form is a bit more expensive, but doesn´t cost more than $60 for a two-dose naloxone kit. I am happy to assist any department to equip their officers with naloxone. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or give me a call at 336-543-8050 and I can assist with developing policies, trainings or ordering naloxone.
Both forms of naloxone work excellently and have been proven not to promote drug use. We’ve seen more people accessing drug treatment in cities that have a naloxone program, because people are given a second chance at life. Naloxone programs also mend and build community relationships, because community members start seeing law enforcement as lifesavers. A recent study showed that when a community invests in community wide naloxone distribution, overdose mortality may decrease by up to 46% percent. Another benefit of naloxone is that it decreases PTSD among law enforcement officers. Equipping officers with naloxone allows them to reverse overdoses and prevent them from witnessing their community members dying in front of them, a common problem in Appalachia.
Some states are going to need legal changes to run these programs. There are 24 states and DC that have good naloxone laws that take away civil and/or criminal liability for individuals who administer naloxone.
We’ve been polling officers on their attitudes toward carrying naloxone in NC, and have found that the vast majority want access to it ASAP. I’ve been dispensing naloxone to officers since August 2013, and after a training we always have long lines of officers queuing to get it, because they want to be part of the solution. There isn’t any controversy among the officers about the life-saving benefits of naloxone.
Another good thing about Naloxone is that it is incredibly durable. According to the 2008 Study in the American Journal of Emergency Medicine called, “Alteration in prehospital drug concentration afterthermal exposure,” Naloxone can handle being in temperatures as low as 21 and as high as 129 degrees Fahrenheit temperatures for a 28 day period and keep a good concentration level of around 89%. We always recommend that you keep the medicine at room temperature out of sunlight, but naloxone is a burly medication that can handle limited exposure to the high heat and cold winter days that officers frequently deal with in the community.