Turning police officers into enablers may be one of the dumber public policy ideas in a while.
From 2015 to 2018, accidental opioid overdoses increased 40 percent, the New Haven Register reported last year. Now, the city of New Haven is having its police officers give out ‘harm reduction kits’ filled with everything (except the actual drugs) a drug user needs—needles, a burner, a pipe and more.
“Clean needles, sterile water, there’s some burners, there’s cotton,” explained former New Haven Police Sgt. Robert Lawler at a news conference. “It’s a basic harm reduction kit.”
There’s also a pipe for drug use, condoms and sterile wipes, and important information on free recovery programs, reported NBC Connecticut.
While the opioid crisis is affecting the entire state, New Haven is the only city in the state that is currently having its police officers hand out the kits.
“While many think that the primary responsibility of police is to protect and enforce the laws, for us in New Haven, the primary responsibility is the protection and the preservation of life,” Chief Reyes told reporters. “Although there are many situations where we have to arrest, we want our people to know that want to we support every individual’s road to recovery.”
According to Department of Mental Health and Addictions Services Commissioner Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the kits are also being given out to individuals as they leave jail.
“Individuals released from incarceration, they’re vulnerable, and vulnerable to overdose,” Delphin-Rittmon told the New Haven Rgister. “Giving individuals harm reduction kits and tools to keep them safe will undoubtedly save lives.”
While handing out ‘harm reduction kits’ may not sound like a bad idea, it raises certain questions. For example:
- Is it the job of the police—whose job it is to
the law—to provide the tools to people to continue violating the law?
- Although the police are not supplying the drugs, by providing needles, burners and more to an addict, will the city then be liable if an addict overdoses using city-provided paraphernalia?
- If a family of an addict sues the city, and the city is found liable for ‘aiding and abetting’ the addict, will the individual officers who handed out the kit also be liable?
What could possibly go wrong?
Hat-tip: Blue Lives Matter