‘Best op­por­tu­nity’ amid cri­sis

HYoa­pupryel­sos­neg­nwtieaelkdeanid­lyC­nael­gwarsy, Metro will re­turn Tues­day, April 18 Chaf­fin backs su­per­vised con­sump­tion sites in city

Metro Canada (Calgary) - - YOUR ESSENTIAL DAILY NEWS - Lu­cie ed­ward­son Metro | Cal­gary

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.”

Con­trib­uted

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.

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