Police won’t face investigation for failed attempts to save OD victims

The Canadian Press
November 14, 2018
By The Canadian Press
TORONTO — Ontario police officers who unsuccessfully administer naloxone to someone overdosing on opioids will no longer face an investigation by the province’s police watchdog, the government said Tuesday.

The Progressive Conservatives said they had amended a regulation under the Police Services Act so that police chiefs aren’t required to notify the Special Investigations Unit when an officer administers naloxone or other first aid to a person who doesn’t survive, provided there was no other action that could have caused the person’s death.

The province said that puts police officers on par with other first responders, who can carry and administer naloxone but don’t face the same level of oversight.

“No one should face unfair repercussions just because they are doing their job and trying to save a life,” Sylvia Jones, the minister of community safety and correctional services, said in a statement.

“This amendment will enable police officers to carry out their duties without fear of facing a criminal investigation, but more importantly, it will also help save countless lives.”

The union representing provincial police officers had called for the Special Investigations Unit to end the practice of launching an investigation when an officer unsuccessfully administers naloxone.

The OPP Association, which represents nearly 10,000 uniform and civilian members, had said there was concern among officers that they could end up being investigated for “trying to save a life.”

Rob Jamieson, the union’s president, said the change announced Tuesday “reflects the current reality of policing in Ontario.”

“Today’s announcement strikes a perfect balance for officers who find themselves administering life-saving measures to a member of the public,” he said in a statement.

Naloxone can temporarily reverse overdoses from opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone.

The government announced in 2017 that naloxone kits would be offered to all Ontario police forces as part of the province’s efforts to tackle what it has described as an “escalating opioid crisis.”

- Paola Loriggio

News from © Canadian Press Enterprises Inc., 2018

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