Sharing help to change or maybe save a life. That is the goal behind a new initiative of West Vancouver Police in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health.
West Vancouver Police have undertaken a program to help people suffering from drug addiction that come into police custody. The program offers free Naloxone overdose response kits and direct referral to Vancouver Coastal Health outreach workers when individuals are released from custody.
A high percentage of persons arrested for property crime offences suffer from drug addiction issues. West Vancouver Police have worked very closely with Vancouver Coastal Health with respect to the Opioid crisis.
Under the new program, West Vancouver Police officers are opening up a conversation with these clients while they are in custody. If clients are open to seeking treatment for drug addiction issues, West Vancouver Police will make a referral through Vancouver Coastal Health.
Interested clients are also provided with a Take Home Naloxone Kit that can be used in an emergency if they or someone else find themselves in medical distress. The kits have been provided by the BC Centre for Disease Control and include three doses of Naloxone.
West Vancouver Police Inspector John Lo says the overarching goal is to save lives and help connect people in need to a path toward recovery.
“Our officers work hard to prevent crime and bring offenders before the courts, but the highest duty of police is protecting life, says Inspector Lo, “We know availability of a Naloxone kit at the right time can save lives. We believe taking an opportunity to offer someone connection to addiction support as they leave our care offers hope of starting a potentially life changing conversation.”
Dr. Mark Lysyshyn, who works for Vancouver Coastal Health as the Medical Health Officer for the North Shore says it’s critical that health care and law enforcement organizations work together to address the overdose emergency.
“People suffering from addiction are at high risk of overdose after release from custody, so linking them with outreach workers and other supports like Naloxone can help keep them safe and get them the help they need” says Dr. Mark Lysyshyn. “We hope this will help people get through a vulnerable period.”
All West Vancouver Police officers are now trained in and carry Naloxone kits when on duty.