Several New Jersey police departments plan to allow officers to carry Narcan, an anti-overdose drug. Officers in Camden, Ocean, Cape May and Hunterdon counties may carry Narcan early in the New Year.
A law passed earlier this year legalized the widespread use of it.
Scott Thomson, chief of the metro division of the Camden County Police Department, said he is still weighing the practical issues involved in training officers to administer the drug, which comes as a nasal spray.
“It seems promising from the prospect of, we do have a significant amount of overdoses on our city streets. If this is a viable option for us and … it’s something legally we can do, we would certainly be interested in doing it,” Thomson said. “It lies at the very core of something police officers do day in and day out, which is to save lives.”
Eventually, it will become common practice for police to carry the drug to treat heroin and morphine overdoses, according to Rebecca Alfaro of the Governor’s Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse in New Jersey.
“I think it’s best to have it available to all first responders, whether it be a police officer or someone who works in a medical profession, to be able to administer the Narcan as soon as possible,” said Alfaro.
Alfaro anticipates that more New Jersey police departments will follow the trend.
“I think over the next year we’re going to see more counties carry it. Starting off with a few counties, will give it an opportunity to see how the different police departments and first responders will be able to use the drugs, how effectively they’ll be able to use it,” added Alfaro.
New Jersey’s Overdose Prevention Act, signed in May, allows laypeople to administer the drug. Sixteen other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.