Police in Baltimore Suburb Will Carry Heroin Overdose Spray

By McCarton Ackerman 03/27/14

Anne Arundel County is believed to be the first Maryland county to allow its police to use Narcan kits, which its chief hopes will both save lives and prevent crime.

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With 12 heroin overdose deaths so far this year and overdose rates at more than one per day in Anne Arundel County, police officers in the Baltimore suburb will start carrying anti-overdose kits. The officers are currently receiving training on how to administer Narcan, a nasal mist that halts the symptoms. Although paramedics in the area have had access to the drug for decades, Anne Arundel is believed to be the first jurisdiction in Maryland to issue Narcan to police officers.

The Narcan kits are being given to officers at no additional cost because the county already stocks the medication. Anne Arundel Police Chief Kevin Davis said he wanted to halt the heroin epidemic not only as a life-saving measure, but also a crime-stopping one. He believes the country’s crackdown on oxycodone and other prescription drugs has led to a surge in heroin use, and a subsequent increase in vehicle and precious-metal thefts. "They're trying to steal enough property or money to get them to their next fix," he explained.

The current overdose statistics in Anne Arundel County are on the lower side because they only count instances when paramedics are called and not when a person is taken straight to the hospital. Heroin deaths throughout Maryland are also on the rise, from 238 deaths in 2010 to 378 deaths in 2012 and an expected increase in 2013 when those numbers become finalized.

Maryland currently does not have a Good Samaritan law, which gives immunity from criminal prosecution or civil liability to those who seek medical attention for a drug or alcohol overdose, or those who call for medical assistance on someone’s behalf. Delegate Jon Cardin (D-Baltimore) proposed such a law last month, though it still remains under consideration.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.