For the better part of the last century law enforcement agents at every level of government, federal, state, and local, have been tasked with cracking down on the nation’s drug dealers and drug users. And while facing the drug epidemic head-on is often seen as a core mission among law enforcement agencies, it could be argued that the more fundamental mission is to protect and save lives.
It is with this in mind that some Rhode Island authorities are calling for law enforcement agents to carry potentially lifesaving medication, medication that has been proven to counteract the effects of some kinds of drug overdoses.
The state of Rhode Island is currently undergoing what many observers call a drug epidemic. Chief among the state’s concerns is the alarming surge in opiate use, which includes usage of such drugs as heroin and prescription pain pills. Opiates, besides being highly addictive, carry a significant overdose risk. Heroin, in particular has shown to be extremely deadly, with new mixtures of the drug recently causing an alarming number of overdoses in many states across the country.
Now, Rhode Island state authorities are signaling that they feel it is important that law enforcement be equipped with a drug, called Narcan, which has been proven to help save the lives those who have overdosed on opiates.
The move has been championed by Rhode Island State police Col. Steven G. O’Donnell, who announced in February his intention to train and equip Rhode Island state troopers, sheriffs, and other law enforcement personnel, on how to properly administer the drug.
In a further sign of just how seriously the state is taking overdose deaths, authorities are also preparing legislation – called the Good Samaritan Overdose Protection Act – which will help to protect anyone who administers Narcan in good faith, even if the administration proves to be detrimental in the long run.