Misdemeanor for an overdose? Police weigh in

A Narcan misdemeanor?

(NEWS CENTER) — A police department in Ohio is taking a new approach to fighting its heroin epidemic.

According to an Associated Press article, anyone who has to be revived by an overdose antidote, like Narcan, will be charged with a misdemeanor.

The drug users are officially charged with "inducing panic." That's punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Anyone who makes the 911 call, or who's with the drug user at the time of the overdose, won't be charged.

We asked police in Maine to weigh in on the change. We spoke with Chief Joe Massey in Waterville, Chief Roger Beaupre in Biddeford and Lt. Frank Clark in South Portland to see if they think the Ohio approach will work in their cities.

"You're not going to arrest them out of their addiction I can tell you that," Chief Massey said. "We want to get those who are actually dealing and bringing drugs into the city, and not those who are hopelessly addicted."

"If we charge someone for example, with possession, you say you go through treatment, you get successful completion of it, and we have no objection is the charges are appropriately dismissed," Chief Beaupre said.

"What we don't want is we don't want someone to not call us during a potential life threatening event such as an opiate overdose because they think they or somebody else is going to get charged," Lt. Clark said.

Each of those departments have – or are working on – creative ways for those who overdose to find treatment.

Waterville implemented Operation Hope in January, which allows addicts to come to police officers for help finding treatment without fear of being charged for possession; South Portland is working with community leaders on a similar approach; and Biddeford has an opiate outreach initiative where the department will follow up with someone who has overdosed to offer them help.

Here is the full Associated Press story about Ohio's approach to overdose.

Copyright 2017 WCSH


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