Division of Criminal Justice Services

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Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS)
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For immediate release: Monday, June 2, 2014

New York State sponsors training for law enforcement in Erie County to combat overdoses from heroin, other opioids and provides overdose reversal medication at no cost
Three state agencies, Erie County Department of Health partner to train officers in use of intranasal naloxone


Three state agencies are partnering with the Erie County Department of Health to train police officers from agencies in the county in the use of naloxone, a medication that can save lives by reversing the effect of overdoses caused by heroin or other opioids, which include prescription drugs such as hydrocodone and oxycodone. The state also is providing agencies that send their officers to the trainings with supplies of naloxone at no cost.

The Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), the Department of Health (DOH) and Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services (OASAS) collaborated with Albany Medical Center, the national Harm Reduction Coalition and other partners to develop the training. Eight, one-hour trainings are being held today, tomorrow and Wednesday at the Erie Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy, located at Erie Community College’s North Campus in Williamsville.

Nearly 100 officers from nine agencies have registered to attend the trainings, which are being taught by staff from the Erie County Department of Health, Buffalo Police Department, Buffalo General Hospital and Evergreen Health Services. DCJS also has scheduled trainings in seven other counties across the state during June and July to provide the training and medication, known commercially as Narcan, to as many agencies and officers as possible.

DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, “As a former District Attorney, I have seen first-hand the devastating and far-reaching effects of opioid abuse. Key to DCJS’ mission is providing training and support to local law enforcement. This training will help local law enforcement agencies deal with this public health and public safety crisis in a smart and effective way.”

Added Acting State Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, M.D., J.D., “Fatal and non-fatal overdoses from opioids play an increasing role in the mortality and morbidity of New Yorkers, and I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership to ensure local law enforcement receives the necessary training to administer intranasal naloxone. The Governor’s efforts expand on the department’s Opioid Overdose Program and EMS Naloxone Program, which combined have resulted in more than 1,000 successful overdose reversals.”

Erie County Commissioner of Health Gale R. Burstein, M.D., M.P.H. said, “The Erie County Department of Health is pleased to take the lead role in facilitating training of first responders across Erie County in the use of naloxone, better known as Narcan. Unfortunately, the deaths attributable to opioid abuse continue to grow across our entire county in all areas: urban, suburban and rural. No one and no family should underestimate the seemingly invincible power of an addiction to opiates. As our communities seek to increase and improve our efforts in the areas of prevention and treatment, we must also move forward with this truly life-saving initiative as quickly as possible to prevent as many deaths as possible.”

Officers from the following agencies are scheduled to attend the Erie County trainings: Cheektowaga, East Aurora/Town of Aurora, Evans and Westfield police departments, as well as representatives from the New York State Police, state Attorney General’s Office, state Park Police, state Office of Mental Health and State University of New York.

Naloxone is a medication that is administered by nasal spray to an individual who has overdosed on opioids. It works by temporarily reversing the effects of the opioid, whether illicit or prescription, allowing the individual to regain consciousness and resume normal breathing. The Suffolk County Police Department and the Rensselaer County Sheriff’s Office were the first two agencies in the state to institute naloxone pilot programs.

In addition to teaching officers how to use naloxone, the training will provide an overview of the state’s Good Samaritan Law, which is intended to encourage individuals to seek medical attention for someone who is experiencing a drug or alcohol overdose or other life-threatening injury, who otherwise may have refused to do so for fear of criminal prosecution; detail signs and symptoms of opioid overdose; provide officers with sample policies for their agencies dealing with the use and storage of naloxone; and feature interviews with officers who have used naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose.

New York State, with assistance from the Harm Reduction Coalition, is providing free naloxone kits to law enforcement agencies that send their officers to the trainings. Officers who attend the trainings also will receive prescriptions to carry the medication from physicians who are teaching the courses.  Agency training officers also can attend the trainings and will receive the curriculum materials so they can provide the training to officers within their agencies.

Erie County Central Police Services Commissioner John Glascott said, “I am pleased that Erie County Police Services, the Erie Community College Law Enforcement Training Academy, the Erie County Department of Health, New York State Department of Health and the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services are able to collaborate in this important initiative. It is important that law enforcement keeps abreast with the ever changing needs of the communities they serve. I am confident that the training and the tools that our first responders receive today will result in saving lives.”   

Added Erie Community College President Jack Quinn, “ECC is honored to help our local law enforcement officials gain these life-saving skills. The college prides itself on being a community leader in job training, and this is yet another example of that.”

OASAS Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez said, “Opioid related overdoses are a serious public health concern and training police officers to administer Narcan will help save lives. The Narcan Overdose Prevention Initiative is one of the most successful programs OASAS has administered along with DOH, the Harm Reduction Coalition and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. In support of this important initiative, the 12 OASAS operated Addiction Treatment Centers have become training sites and we have trained over 2,500 patients, staff, family and community members. Saving a person from an opiate overdose gives OASAS and our providers the opportunity to address their addiction or misuse and put them on a path of recovery.”

Added New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico, “The State Police continually train and equip our members to stay on top of dangerous trends or threats that may affect New Yorkers. Our Troopers see first-hand the devastating effects of heroin and other opiates on individuals, families and communities. I thank DCJS, DOH and OASAS for partnering to offer this training that will save lives.” 

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone dies every 19 minutes from a drug overdose, and nearly three out of four prescription drug overdoses are caused by prescription painkillers. When prescription medication is no longer available, individuals often turn to illicit drugs, such as heroin.

“The Harm Reduction Coalition strongly supports Governor Cuomo's actions to give law enforcement officers the trainings and tools to prevent overdose deaths, in line with calls from the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy and the U.S. Attorney General to expand naloxone training,” said Sharon Stancliff, M.D., medical director for the Harm Reduction Coalition. “Our work with community-based programs, drug treatment providers and law enforcement has shown the power of naloxone in reversing New York's opioid overdose epidemic, and we are eager to share our knowledge and experience with police officers through this partnership.”

Added Michael Dailey, M.D., director of pre-hospital care at Albany Medical Center, “We have already seen hundreds of lives impacted by expanding the use of naloxone to basic life support EMS providers in New York State. This partnership between DOH and DCJS, using examples from Rensselaer and Suffolk Counties, and under the leadership of the Governor’s Office, is key to treating these acute overdoses and giving patients another chance to recover their lives.”

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state’s DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.