For more information, contact:
Walt McClure or Janine Kava, Press Office
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
518-457-8828
janine.kava@dcjs.ny.gov or walter.mcclure@dcjs.ny.gov            

For immediate release: Thursday, June 26, 2014

New York State trains law enforcement officers to combat overdoses from heroin, other opioids; provides overdose reversal medication at no cost

Nearly 60 officers from Hudson Valley agencies learn how to use intranasal naloxone, teach colleagues to administer drug

The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) today joined with two other state agencies to train police officers from the North Country 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.

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 trainings, which are part of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s comprehensive, statewide initiative to combat the rise of heroin use. The Governor also yesterday signed a package of legislation designed to further attack this growing problem. More information about those initiatives: http://www.governor.ny.gov/press_archive/

The state provides two types of trainings for law enforcement officers: hour-long classes that teach officers how to use naloxone and provide them with the medication for free and two-hour “train-the-trainer” classes that teach training officers the curriculum so they can train officers within their agencies and academies, multiplying the reach of the state-sponsored classes. The state also helps agencies that send officers to the train-the-trainer sessions to obtain the naloxone at no cost once officers are trained.

The Dutchess County Law Enforcement Academy in Poughkeepsie today is hosting a train-the-trainer class and two classes for 58 officers from 14 agencies in Dutchess, Putnam, Sullivan, Ulster and Westchester counties. At the conclusion of those three trainings, New York State will have trained approximately 770 law enforcement officers from 115 agencies – including about 100 training officers – in 29 counties and New York City.

DCJS also has scheduled trainings in Onondaga, Steuben, Monroe and Delaware counties during June and July to provide the training and medication, known commercially as Narcan, to as many agencies and officers as possible. Trainings have already been held in Albany, Clinton, Erie, Orange, Ulster and Westchester counties.

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.”

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.”

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.

In addition to teaching officers how to use naloxone, the training provides 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 troopers and officers from the following agencies registered to attend today’s trainings: police departments from Ardsley, Beacon, Cold Spring, Fishkill, Marlborough, New Castle, Poughkeepsie (town), Red Hook and Shawangunk; Westchester County Probation Department; Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office, New York State Park Police; and the State University of New York. Staff from the Council on Addiction Prevention and Education of Dutchess County also are registered to attend.

New York State Police Superintendent Joseph A. D’Amico said, “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. 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.

“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.”

Michael Dailey, M.D., director of pre-hospital care at Albany Medical Center who is teaching the trainings in Plattsburgh, said, “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, 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.