Middletown councilman withdraws ‘3 strikes’ proposal for overdoses

The Middletown City Council member who asked last month if the city could stop responding to some overdose calls said Friday he’s withdrawing his proposal and request for a legal opinion.

In an email to the Journal-News, Councilman Dan Picard said he would be making a statement at Tuesday’s city council meeting that his proposal would create significant litigation that the city could not afford and possibly drag out over a long period of time.

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Picard said he met with City Manager Doug Adkins earlier Friday to discuss the matter before emailing the Journal-News about his decision not to move forward with his proposal.

Picard, an attorney who is not running for re-election, last month requested the city seek a legal opinion about not having EMS units respond to repeat opioid users. He asked the question after hearing a report about the increasing number of EMS runs and the costs associated in responding to opioid overdose calls.

Picard suggested that the city create an administrative penalty when EMS is sent to an opioid overdose call that would trigger a penalty of community service equal to the amount of the costs of the EMS run. A second offense would double that community service penalty.

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However, if the person who overdosed did not comply with the community service penalties imposed for the previous runs, then the city may opt not to respond to that person. He said he wanted to create fear in opioid users not to buy drugs and overdose in Middletown because EMS might not respond.

Picard said he received the opinion of the city’s Law Department late Friday morning, but declined to comment on what it said.

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“… [B]ut I have done my own research and I have consulted with several municipal law attorneys regarding the proposal I made in June,” Picard said. “I have come to the conclusion that if the City were to adopt my proposal, it would expose the City to significant litigation for adopting my proposal which the City simply cannot afford and therefore I will not be moving forward with my proposal.”

Picard told the Journal-News that he’s “pleased with the fact that my proposal has prompted a worldwide discussion of this issue and that I hope that raising the awareness of this matter with the public will lead to some resolution of the problems.”

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Picard said he plans to use the remaining months in his term trying to locate additional funding to help the city maintain the level of services it currently provides to residents.

Since the story was first reported in the Journal-News last month, Picard said he has received comments from around the world. He estimated he has been contacted more than 1,000 times and has responded to more than 400 phone calls or emails.

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Picard said “it was hell the first week with the initial backlash” but since then its turned more than 50 percent positive.

His comments even followed him on vacation last week in northern Maine near the Canadian border. Picard said he went into a small store and as he placed his items on the counter, the story was being reported on CNN.

“As soon as I walked up, the clerk did a double-take, then asked me if I was Dan Picard,” he said. “I’m ready for it to go away and I’m looking forward to being a lonely lawyer again.”

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