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Another Voice: Police should rethink opposition to naloxone

By Christine Adamczyk

On March 30, 2017, my family experienced a tragedy that too many families in Western New York have also experienced: We lost a loved one to an opiate overdose.

My son, Daniel J. Adamczyk, struggled for years with his addiction and unfortunately, he succumbed to his illness. My family vowed to do everything within our power bring awareness to this critical issue and do all that we can to help to slow this epidemic’s reach into our community.

I was disappointed when I read in The Buffalo News that there are still police departments that do not issue the lifesaving drug naloxone to their officers. My family was fortunate that we live in a town where the police are issued naloxone. On two separate occasions, the Cheektowaga Police Department saved my son’s life by administering the overdose reversal medication. Both of those occasions allowed him to keep fighting his addiction.

I understand that some towns and cities have paid fire departments that have quick response times. One police chief was even quoted saying that “A lot of times they are there before we are” when speaking about the fire department response in his city. But I would ask him, what about the times his officers are on scene first? During an overdose, people stop breathing. Seconds can make the difference between life and death.

Another concern expressed by a police chief was that there may eventually be a cost for program that his town is not ready to commit to. With this in mind, the Daniel J. Adamczyk Foundation, a foundation created in my son’s honor and focused on fighting the opiate epidemic, has offered to cover the cost of naloxone until 2021 if there comes a time when the police department must purchase their own naloxone. I privately contacted the four police chiefs who have yet to issue naloxone to their officers and presented this offer. I have heard back from only one of them and have been unable to convince him that equipping his officers with naloxone is a positive step for his community with little cost to his department.

Therefore, I am publicly appealing to these four police chiefs to please reconsider their decisions related to their officers carrying naloxone. Chances are high that these officers will be in a position to save someone’s life, just like the police did for my son. I often hear police officers say that they became police officers because they want to help people. Please, give your officers another tool that will allow them to do just that.

Christine Adamczyk is a Town of Cheektowaga councilwoman. She has been giving presentations to various school orientations, in multiple districts, in order to bring awareness to this growing epidemic. She has also been going into health classes to talk directly with the students about this crisis.

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