Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones’ comments that deputies would not carry Narcan have been drawing a lot of attention, including inspiring groups to plan protests.
“Basically, we’re not going to use Narcan,” Jones told Ashleigh Banfield on HLN’s “Primetime Justice.”
But the fact is Jones’ deputies are not unique among the county’s law enforcement. Only one police agency in Butler County equips its police officers with Narcan.
Miami University Police received training and began carrying the opioid overdose antidote about one year ago, said Chief John McCandless.
“To date we have not deployed it,” McCandless told the Journal-News on Wednesday. He noted the department receives a discount on the drug through the campus pharmacy.
“Our community is not immune from drug use,” the chief said. “We thought it was the right thing to do.”
Oxford police officers are not equipped with Narcan, according to Chief John Jones.
And that is the case for all other Butler County police departments, including Middletown, Hamilton, Monroe, Trenton and West Chester Twp.
Jones said on the show that first responders are often in danger when they arrive at an overdose call. Officers and medics sometimes encounter violent people who don’t want to see police. Responders also run the risk of coming into contact with needles and life-threatening drugs.
“It’s very dangerous,” he said. “We’re not winning this battle and Narcan is not the answer.”
Middletown Police Chief Rodney Muterspaw took to Facebook after Jones’ comments to say that his police officers are also not equipped with Narcan.
“I think people misconstrued (the sheriff’s comments) by taking it and saying that police officers don’t care about lives. That is utterly absurd and ridiculous. That is the sheriff’s decision and he is doing what is best for his department and his county. National media has ran with it, but what they fail to see is most police agencies do not carry it,” Muterspaw said.
Muterspaw said the Middletown Police Department, like other police agencies in Butler County, has systems in place with its fire department and medics to help those in medical emergency situations.
“We deal with people who overdosed, we deal with people who have heart trouble, we deal with people who have diabetic seizures, we deal with people who seriously injured themselves at their home or business,” Muterspaw said. “We do not carry medicine for all of those issues. That doesn’t mean we want people to die. That simply means we already have a system in place for that and that would be our fire department and medics.”
Other chiefs also cited quick response time by trained paramedics as reason for not taking on the expense in training officers or purchasing Narcan to carry in cruisers.
“First of all, we are not physicians and it’s just not our forté,” said Trenton Police Chief Arthur Scott. “Medical units are there within a minute of an officer. I don’t know of any situation where an officer having Narcan would have made a difference.”
Fairfield Police Chief Mike Dickey pointed out Narcan is required to be stored at between 60 and 70 degrees, which can been challenging in a cruiser.
“Really the paramedic units are there as quick as police,” Dickey said.
Two months ago, Carlisle Police Department in Warren County began training and supplying its police force of eight with Narcan. That department joined the Dayton Police Department, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio Highway Patrol as area agencies equipping police officers with the drug.
Carlisle Police Chief Mike Bruck, who is a former Middletown police chief, said he wanted officers to have the drug in case another officer or child was exposed to an opioid.
In the past two months, officers have used Narcan three times, he said, but not on a child or fellow officer.