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The contents of a drug overdose rescue kit are shown at a training session on how to administer naloxone, which reverses the effects of heroin and prescription painkillers.

Associated Press

We are in the midst of the opioid epidemic, and police officers are on the front lines. Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal drug, is a critical tool for police officers in combating overdoses. Recently, the Federal Government has decided that $6 billion dollars will be used exclusively to help combat the opioid crisis. Some of this federal funding must be allocated to a program that will educate and supply New York State law enforcement with this critical and life-saving drug. 

Police officers are often the first on the scene of an overdose, arriving before EMS and other medical services. When an individual is overdosing, every second counts. Officers must have equipment available to them to be able to respond to these overdose emergencies immediately. When it comes to opioid overdoses a few minutes can be the difference between life and death. That is why it is essential for responders to carry this overdose reversing drug.

In addition to being the first to arrive on the scene, police officers are usually the last ones to leave. In the aftermath of an overdose, they are looking to help families, process and collect evidence, and talk to victims. Because of this, they are at a high risk for unintentional opioid ingestion and possible overdose.

New York State has equipped local police with naloxone since 2014 and the Auburn Police Department participates in the program. Statewide results show that this has been a necessary and beneficial tool in combating the opioid epidemic. Auburn Police have also benefited from the training and have even used the overdose reversing drug in dozens of instances. The first doses of naloxone by Auburn Police were administered in 2015.

As the opioid epidemic continues local police will need additional support. New York State has seen a rise in the prevalence of Fentanyl — a synthetic drug estimated to be up to 100 times more potent than morphine. The strength of this drug means that accidental overdoses can happen quickly, unintentionally and with very little exposure. The Drug Enforcement Agency has acknowledged that law enforcement officers are at great risk of accidental overdose from Fentanyl. Police officers are doing their job to protect and serve their communities, the federal and state governments need to allocate resources for our protection

A national emergency requires a national response. The federal government needs to provide training and equipment to combat this crisis. I hope Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Representative Katko vote to support New York State law enforcement by allocating federal funding to continue to supply them with naloxone. Police are invaluable members of our communities, who put their lives on the line every day, and this is a crucial way that our elected officials can protect them.

Every patrol car in the nation should be equipped with naloxone to reverse an opioid overdose. The police in Auburn should continue to be trained and supplied with naloxone. They are on the front lines of the opioid epidemic and have the ability to make a huge difference.

Butler is the chief of the Auburn Police Department