Once the exclusive purview of paramedics and emergency room doctors, administering lifesaving medication to drug users in the throes of an overdose is becoming an everyday part of police work amid an epidemic of heroin and opioid pill abuse, reports the New York Times. On Wednesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo committed state money to get naloxone into the hands of emergency medical workers across the state, saying the heroin problem was worse than that seen in the 1970s, and is growing.
Last month, New York City police commissioner William Bratton said the city's entire patrol force soon would be trained and equipped with naloxone. “Officers like it because it puts them in a lifesaving opportunity,” Bratton said. While the number of officers carrying the drug remains small now, about two dozen of the 18,000 U.S. police departments have naloxone programs or are setting them up. Police departments in cities as large as Boston and San Diego are preparing programs, as are more than 150 police forces across New York State. “This is a huge change for policing,” said Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum. “You're going to see this spread across the country.”