‘Best opportunity’ amid crisis
HYoapupryelsosnegnwtieaelkdeanidlyCnaelgwarsy, Metro will return Tuesday, April 18 Chaffin backs supervised consumption sites in city
Calgary’s chief of police has voiced his support for the move towards supervised consumption sites in Calgary, calling it the “best opportunity” to start developing trust and building relationships with the city’s growing number of addicts.
Chief Roger Chaffin said he’s fully aware of the complexities that comes alongside powerful opioids and that with so many things at play — mental health, community safety, crime trends, family life — you can’t “simply detox.”
Chaffin spoke to Bow Valley College students about the opioid crisis Wednesday, noting up to three people a day die in Alberta due to overdose.
“There’s a lot that needs to occur, but our first and best opportunity is a clinical setting to start developing trust with them and building that relationship that provides services to them,” he said, adding that CPS is partnering with Alberta Health Services, the city and other community partners.
Edmonton has four of these sites earmarked for opening, but Calgary is still in the queue for possible locations.
Leslie Hill, executive director for HIV Community Link in Calgary, and who sits on the Calgary Coalition of Supervised Consumption, has said that they’re trying to assess the city’s needs before rolling out locations in the city. She noted that public perception of the sites is one roadblock to determining the best places.
At a community meeting this week, Chaffin said he asked a room of 50 people if they would like to have these sites in their neighbourhoods.
“And of course no one put their hand up,” he said. ”So we have to respect that, and that’s where the controversy lies.”
The chief said when people think of these sites they often imagine the Vancouver setting, which “unfortunately in that setting, we saw hypodermic needles on the ground and drug dealers hanging out in the area.”
But, Chaffin said, unlike Vancouver, Calgary isn’t dealing with one entrenched community filled with drug addicts and that they live in all quadrants of the city.
“It’s about bringing it more into a clinical setting where the police then have the opportunity to bring in the safety mechanisms around it,” he said, adding that Calgary has had methadone clinics for years without any of those sorts of issues.
Chaffin said you can’t have a system where the only two outcomes are “you get treatment or you die.”
“Once opioids are here, once you have an addicted community, it doesn’t go away out of fatigue or frustration. It doesn’t go away on its own,” he said. “The only way it goes away is when the community comes together to put as many services together.”
Calgary’s police chief is backing the opening of supervised consumption sites, similar to the supervised injection sites seen here in Vancouver, to battle the fentanyl crisis in Calgary.