OPP issues drug safety kits to frontline officers
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.