OPP is­sues drug sa­fe­ty kits to front­line of­fi­cers

Tribune Express - - COLLECTIVITÉ • COMMUNITY - GREGG CHAMBERLAIN gregg.chamberlain@eap.on.ca

On­ta­rio’s pro­vin­cial po­lice of­fi­cers will have a new ad­di­tion to their stan­dard-is­sue equip­ment list. The OPP will pro­vide a spe­cial “Fen­ta­nyl pro­tec­tion” kit to all of its front­line of­fi­cers and mem­bers of spe­cial ope­ra­tions groups like the Drug En­for­ce­ment Unit.

The kits are part of the OPP’s res­ponse to the in­crea­sing pre­sence of Fen­ta­nyl on the pro­vin­cial drug scene. The kits are for use when OPP of­fi­cers, both in the ge­ne­ral force and the spe­cial units, are in­vol­ved in drug search-and-sei­zure si­tua­tions or in or­di­na­ry day-to-day en­coun­ters du­ring ge­ne­ral du­ty.

“We take the health and sa­fe­ty of our mem­bers and our com­mu­ni­ties ve­ry se­rious­ly,” sta­ted OPP Com­mis­sio­ner Vince Hawkes. “With the in­crea­sed pre­va­lence of Fen­ta­nyl, Fen­ta­nyl ana­logues and syn­the­tic opioid pow­ders on our streets, there is a ve­ry real dan­ger of ex­po­sure and these steps are being ta­ken to en­sure the sa­fe­ty of those we serve and our of­fi­cers.”

Eve­ry front­line of­fi­cer will re­ceive a kit contai­ning two doses of Naxo­lone na­sal spray, which can coun­ter the ef­fects of Fen­ta­nyl. Mem­bers of the Drug En­for­ce­ment Unit (DEU) and Com­mu­ni­ty Street Crime Unit (CSCU) will al­so re­ceive per­so­nal drug sa­fe­ty kits.

OPP pro­to­col dea­ling with drug search-and-sei­zure cases and/or sam­pling of sus­pec­ted drugs re­quire man­da­to­ry pro­tec­tive gear for of­fi­cers now. Front­line of­fi­cers in­vol­ved in such cases with the DEU or CSCU must now wear pro­tec­tive gear, in­clu­ding a res­pi­ra­tor mask, sa­fe­ty glasses or goggles, ni­trile gloves, and long-slee­ved shirts or ja­ckets.

Recent Health Ca­na­da sta­tis­ti­cal re­views have de­ter­mi­ned that Fen­ta­nyl was present in 114 OPP drug search-and-sei­zure cases last year, in­clu­ding ru­ral areas of On­ta­rio where the OPP is the main po­lice force. Test re­view re­sults for 2017 are not avai­lable yet but Health Ca­na­da and OPP case files in­di­cate the num­ber of sei­zures which in­vol­ved Fen­ta­nyl seems si­mi­lar to the num­bers for 2016. This sup­ports po­lice and health au­tho­ri­ties’ concerns that Fen­ta­nyl use and abuse is a gro­wing pro­blem in On­ta­rio.

The Naxo­lone kits for of­fi­cers are for use if they are ex­po­sed to Fen­ta­nyl du­ring the course of a case or for emer­gen­cy treat­ment of anyone sus­pec­ted of over­do­sing on Fen­ta­nyl if other me­di­cal aid is not avai­lable. All OPP of­fi­cers will re­ceive trai­ning in how to ap­ply the Naxo­lone if re­qui­red. Naxo­lone can re­verse an over­dose of Fen­ta­nyl or other opioid drug for about 20 mi­nutes up to an hour’s du­ra­tion, de­pen­ding on the strength of the over­dose.

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