It’s been an interesting week here in Middletown. Let’s start with the facts. Councilman Picard asked the Law Dept to investigate whether we had a legal obligation to dispatch to repeat opiate overdose patients. If , after investigation, there was a legal and ethical path that would allow us to legally choose to respond or not to dispatch, he opined that there could be a system to be later considered that would divert overdosing addicts from jail and into community service and treatment.
There was no three strikes policy discussed by Council as a group, no change of policy voted on. No change or request to change was made by the majority of Council to alter how we run police or fire calls on potential overdose situations. We will complete the legal research requested and forward the information to City Council at some later date.
Councilman Picard’s comments went viral and we’ve received hate mail, national news coverage and overloaded voice mail and email in-boxes.
Except… nothing has changed… at all… whatsoever. We are responding to every call and rendering aid as needed. We give Narcan where it is appropriate. Period.
Middletown has done everything we know to do to be as progressive on this issue as we can. We get harm reduction. We understand it’s a disease. We have a drug court in the municipal court system with medically supervised treatment. Our heroin response team (police officer/social worker/paramedic) has placed over 140 people into treatment in the past year. We have had an operating needle exchange program in Middletown for over a year.
We are usually heavily criticized not for being too harsh, but rather for being too lenient with addicts. No one has figured this problem out. Cities, States and the country as a whole all struggle to handle the epidemic. It’s a national problem and we utilize the local resources we have to deal with the problem in our City.
One last time – we have not considered or adopted any change to our method of responding to opiate overdose calls. We respond and render aid every time.
Have a good week!