Opioid Crisis Leads Police Officers to Act as Drug Counselors and Medical Workers

In areas hard hit by the opioid crisis, police officers have increasingly taken on the role of drug counselors and medical workers, The Washington Post reports.

Police departments are arranging for drug treatment, administering naloxone, and allowing people to turn in drugs in exchange for treatment.

“When I came out of the police academy, it was law enforcement enforcing the law,” said Kevin Coppinger, Sheriff in Essex County, Massachusetts. “Now police officers have to be generalists. You have to enforce the law, you have to be social-service workers and almost mental-health workers.”

“Drugs are being introduced into the illicit drug supply that are more powerful than anything we’ve ever seen before, and it’s taxing our law enforcement resources, our EMS resources, our emergency departments and hospitals, and it’s difficult to manage,” said Van Ingram, Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy.