Law enforcement are front-line overdose responders.
In this section:
Law enforcement naloxone in WA State
In an effort to reduce overdose deaths, many law enforcement agencies are training their officers how to recognize an opioid overdose and to administer naloxone, the medication to reverse an opioid overdose.
In WA State, licensed physicians can prescribe and dispense naloxone to law enforcement agencies. In addition, WA State has a statewide standing order that allows pharmacies to directly dispense naloxone to individuals and organizations. Law enforcement agencies and their officers acting in good faith and with reasonable care are immune from criminal and civil liability for possessing, storing, distributing, or administering naloxone.
The majority of law enforcement organizations in Washington now carry naloxone.
Implementing a naloxone program
These are useful resources for law enforcement administrators who are considering or implementing naloxone programs for their officers.
General information and tools
- From the Bureau of Justice:
- Engaging Law Enforcement in Opioid Overdose Response: Frequently Asked Questions answers the most common questions from agencies about naloxone programs.
- Law Enforcement Naloxone Toolkit includes downloadable data collection forms, standard operating procedures, training guides, community outreach materials, and memoranda of agreement.
- Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs Naloxone Guidance for Law Enforcement explains the legal and policy background for law enforcement naloxone programs in WA State.
- This article discusses officer and agency liability issues related to naloxone:
Engaging Law Enforcement in Overdose Reversal Initiatives: Authorization and Liability for Naloxone Administration Davis et al. Am J Public Health. 2015 Aug;105(8):1530-7.
Seattle Police Department officer training presentation on naloxone and the Good Samaritan law
Law Enforcement training video from NARCAN® Nasal Spray
Seattle Police Department training video on the Good Samaritan Overdose Laws and naloxone.
- Police naloxone reporting forms, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
- Sample data reports, Bureau of Justice Naloxone Toolkit
WA State laws
- RCW 4.24.300 Immunity from liability for certain types of medical care (general public)
- RCW 69.41.095 “Naloxone Law” – distribution, possession and administration of naloxone among laypersons, first responder/law enforcement immunity
- RCW 69.50.315 “Good Samaritan Overdose Law” – immunity from drug possession prosecution in drug-related overdoses
Resources for law enforcement on fentanyl exposure and safety.
- American College of Medical Toxicologists Position Statement: Preventing Occupational Fentanyl and Fentanyl Analog Exposure to Emergency Responders
- Fentanyl Safety Recommendations for First Responders
- Fentanyl: The Real Deal, video
Other law enforcement approaches
Law enforcement units in WA State and around the country are deploying new approaches to address the opioid crisis and help people exit the cycle of addiction, criminal activity, and overdose. These approaches include partnerships with drug treatment, housing, and other social service providers to provide more comprehensive crisis intervention, facilitate entry into drug treatment, and provide social services following an overdose.
Below are some examples of program models being implemented by law enforcement in Washington and other states.
Snohomish County Office of Neighborhoods embeds social workers with law enforcement for homeless outreach.
Everett Police Community Outreach and Enforcement Team works with community partners on addiction outreach and service referrals as alternatives to arrest and incarceration (part of the national PAARI model).
King County Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is a pre-booking diversion pilot program that allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level offenders engaged in drug or prostitution activity to community-based services, instead of jail and prosecution.
Police-Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative (PAARI) is a model of police-community partnerships for outreach, education, and connections to social service support. Several WA State law enforcement units are part of the national PAARI network.
Colerain, OH Quick Response Teams team up police, paramedics and addiction counselors to provide medical response, crisis intervention and referrals for drug treatment and other social services at or shortly after an overdose.
Gloucester, MA ANGEL program encourages people with opioid addiction to come to police stations for help getting into drug treatment.