TORONTO - Ontario's Government is helping police officers save lives by enabling them to carry and administer naloxone in response to opioid overdoses like other first responders, who do not have to worry about routinely being the subject of a criminal investigation.
The province has amended Ontario Regulation 267/10, a key regulation under the current Police Services Act. Previously, police have been required to report to and be investigated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) in an incident in which a civilian dies after naloxone is administered. With this change, Chiefs of Police will no longer be required to automatically notify SIU when a police officer has administered naloxone or other emergency first aid to a person who dies or suffers a serious injury, provided there was no other interaction that could have caused the death or serious injury.
Police officers will now be on par with other emergency first responders—such as paramedics or firefighters—who can carry and administer naloxone but are not subject to the same level of oversight. This is a significant change as police officers are often the first to arrive on the scene in a medical emergency and do what any first responder would do: they try to save a life.
- Naloxone is a medication that can temporarily reverse the effects of an opioid overdose (e.g., fentanyl, oxycodone, heroin) if used within a short period following an opioid overdose. It is now being carried by many police officers for use in opioid overdose or apparent opioid overdoses.
- Naloxone does not affect non-opioids. Administering naloxone to a person who is unconscious because of a non-opioid overdose or for other reasons is unlikely to create harm.
- The SIU is a police oversight body, independent of the police, that conducts criminal investigations into circumstances involving police and civilians that have resulted in serious injury or death.
- The SIU will continue to investigate civilian deaths where other factors are present (e.g. if there was any use of force against the person who received the naloxone or if a person dies while in police custody/detention).