Division of Criminal Justice Services

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New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services
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For immediate release: Wednesday, April 30, 2014

New York State sponsors training for law enforcement to combat overdoses from heroin, other opioids

Three state agencies partner to train officers in use of intranasal naloxone,
provide medication at no cost to law enforcement agencies that send officers to training

Three state agencies are partnering to train police officers 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 local partners to develop and offer the trainings. A total of seven, hour-long trainings were held yesterday and today in Albany for the first time.

Nearly 260 officers from 42 agencies, including the New York State Police, have registered to attend the trainings. DCJS will be scheduling additional classes in other parts of the state to provide the training and medication, known commercially as Narcan, to agencies that weren’t able to send officers to this first round of trainings. Frequently Asked Questions for Law Enforcement

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 State Health Commissioner Nirav R. Shah, M.D., M.P.H., “I commend Governor Cuomo for providing local law enforcement with the training and support in the use of intranasal naloxone. The Governor’s efforts expand on the current success of 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.”

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.” 

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.

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. Officers who attend the trainings also will receive prescriptions to carry the medication from physicians who are teaching the courses.

“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.”

Officers from agencies in the following counties registered to attend the Albany trainings: Albany, Columbia, Cattaraugus, Dutchess, Erie, Essex, Greene, Madison, Montgomery, Nassau, Oneida, Orange, Hamilton, Herkimer, Rensselaer, Saratoga, Schenectady, Ulster, Washington and Westchester.   

Cambridge-Greenwich Police Chief George Bell, who attended the training, said, “Heroin use has become a big issue for the Cambridge-Greenwich community because it is cheap to get and because our community shares a border with Vermont, where heroin use has increased significantly in the past few years. This training is very important to our department because while we have talked about getting naloxone for officers to carry, the cost for a small agency like this would make it almost impossible if it were not for this program.”

Added Glenville Police Chief Michael Ranalli, whose officers were trained, “Our agency and our officers appreciate the opportunity to get this training and to be given the tools to possibly save someone in need.”  

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.

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.