Anne Arundel County’s efforts to combat a rise in heroin use – and deadly drug overdoses – will have a new tool when police officers begin carrying a drug that can quickly reverse the effects of an overdose.
Officials made the announcement on Monday as the next tool in the fight against drug trafficking. The Anne Arundel County Police Department noticed an increase in heroin overdoses last summer in the southern portion of the county, including Annapolis, Parole, and Edgewater.
Most of the overdoses were occurring in public places such as malls and shopping centers, and many of the people purchasing and using the heroin were traveling from other counties into Anne Arundel County, police said.
In many cases, police officers are the first responders on the scene of an overdose, which often disrupts normal breathing or causes the user to stop breaking. With this in mind, Police Chief Kevin Davis decided to purchase Naloxone, known as Narcan, a potentially life-saving drug that can reverse the side effects of a heroin overdose.
Members of the Anne Arundel County Police Department are being trained by the Anne Arundel County Fire Department on how to use Narcan.
Police officers will administer Narcan through a nasal spray that they will be issued; it has been successful in treating overdoses of heroin and other opiates. The drug reverses the effects of an overdose, restoring normal breathing.
During training, every patrol officer in the agency will receive a dose of naloxone. In Anne Arundel County alone so far in 2014, 85 people have suffered heroin overdoses. Of those overdoses, 12 were fatal.
The police department has continued to combat the two most prevalent crimes in Anne Arundel County: theft from automobiles and theft of precious metals. The common denominator in these types of crimes is suspects addicted to the drug heroin, police say.
In recent months, officers in several districts have made arrests during Operation H.O.P.E. resulting in seizures of suspected heroin.
“The heroin problem that exists is not isolated to Anne Arundel County, and this is not an issue that law enforcement can arrest their way out of,” Chief Davis said. “A holistic approach, involving education, treatment and enforcement, is needed to tackle this disease. One of the major tenets of law enforcement is to protect lives and I believe that outfitting officers with Narcan is an invaluable tool in the effort to save people from losing their battles with substance abuse.”