Police in Toronto's downtown core will now carry overdose-reversal drug, naloxone
July 5, 2018
Toronto police announced on Thursday they will now be equipping officers who work in the downtown core with naloxone, a medication used to block the effects of opioids and counteract an opioid overdose.
Naloxone is used to temporarily reverse the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, Percocet, morphine, methadone and heroin.
Toronto police announced on Thursday that 1,034 police officers will now carry naloxone on their utility belts.
Data from the City of Toronto website indicates 303 opioid overdose deaths took place in Toronto in 2017--this includes both accidental deaths and suicides--a 63-per-cent increase from 2016 and a 121-per-cent increase from 2015.
In 2017, one in four deaths in Ontario from opioid overdose took place in Toronto.
Police have already received 1,024 calls related to overdoses this year, up from 903 in 2017, said Toronto police Inspector Paul MacIntyre in a news release.
Calls related to opioid overdoses are reportedly highest in Toronto’s downtown core and around supervised injection sites, police said.
“A phased roll-out assists in alleviating public and officer concerns regarding opioid safety issues, particularly in neighbourhoods surrounding supervised consumption sites,” MacIntyre said.
Toronto’s first unofficial safe-injection site started as a tent set up in Moss Park by front line volunteers. Now the city has four supervised injection sites.
Some 1,034 police officers will now carry naloxone on their utility belts, police said in the news release.
“Now, along with Fire and EMS, the Toronto Police Service will be equipped with naloxone,” MacIntyre said.
Specialized squads, such as the emergency task force, integrated gun and gang task force, drug squad, and police dog services, and all supervisors and sergeants across the city are included in this first phase of implementation.
Back in February, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders released a report to the Toronto police board outlining a proposed plan for “structured deployment” of naloxone nasal spray to every front-line officer in Toronto’s downtown core.
There was concern among police ranks that some officers might hesitate to provide the life-saving drug out of fear that it could prompt an investigation by the SIU, Ontario’s police watchdog,
SIU wouldn’t budge and director Tony Loparco said Ontario law is clear: his agency investigates police officers in cases of serious injury or death--and that includes when officers administer the life-saving drug naloxone.
Naloxone is not useful in reversing overdoses of non-opioid drugs such as amphetamines and cocaine, said police.