TORONTO – Ontario police officers who unsuccessfully administer naloxone to someone overdosing on opioids will no longer face an investigation by the province’s police watchdog.
The Ontario government says it has amended a regulation under the Police Services Act so that police chiefs aren’t required to notify the Special Investigations Unit when an officer administers naloxone or other first aid to a person who doesn’t survive, provided there was no other action that could have caused the person’s death.
The province says that puts police officers on par with other first responders, who can carry and administer naloxone but don’t face the same level of oversight.
The union representing provincial police officers had called for the Special Investigations Unit to end the practice of launching an investigation when an officer unsuccessfully administers naloxone.
The union has said there was concern among officers that they could end up being investigated for “trying to save a life.”
Naloxone can temporarily reverse overdoses from opioids such as heroin, fentanyl, oxycodone and hydrocodone.
“No one should face unfair repercussions just because they are doing their job and trying to save a life,” Sylvia Jones, the minister of community safety and correctional services, said in a statement. “This amendment will enable police officers to carry out their duties without fear of facing a criminal investigation, but more importantly, it will also help save countless lives.”