Posts tagged law enforcement

A Review of the Summit on Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit

Summit on Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy

 

 

It’s not every day that law enforcement and active drug users agree on something, or that Democratic and Republican politicians find common ground. But on Tuesday, June 12th, the Summit on Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy forged unlikely collaborations on issues of law enforcement safety in North Carolina. During the event, law enforcement, civil servants, academics, public health workers and concerned community members discussed various topics affecting law enforcement, including the importance of preventing needle-stick injuries to officers and the community, the need to include law enforcement to address the epidemic of prescription drug overdose, and reducing recidivism among prison populations.

 

Preventing Needle-Sticks to Law Enforcement

The Summit was held at the legislative auditorium in downtown Raleigh. During the first panel of the morning, former officer Jen Earls spoke articulately about her first needle-stick as a rookie cop in Chicago. “Getting stuck by a needle was one of the scariest moments of my career,” said Earls. “I pulled over a woman driving a posh Lexus in a rough neighborhood. She told me her driver’s license was in her purse and when I put my hand in, I got stuck on a needle. I didn’t know what to do and didn’t want to make a big deal out of it because no rookie wants that kind of attention. So I put a band-aid on it and went on with work.”

Conference participants, including Republican Representative Glen Bradley, Democratic Representative Dianne Parfitt, Jon Sanders of the Jon Locke Foundation (a conservative think-tank), and several members of law enforcement, articulated the need for syringe decriminalization laws in North Carolina. Syringe decriminalization would allow residents, whether the state’s 680,000 diabetics or 25,000 urban injection drug users, to carry clean syringes without fear of arrest. Current N.C. laws, which categorize syringe possession as a Class A misdemeanor, discourage people from declaring syringes to an officer during a search and result in 1 in 3 officers receiving a needle-stick during their careers, with 28% receiving multiple sticks. Syringe decriminalization has been shown to reduce the incidence of needle-sticks to officers by 66%, as well as to reduce HIV and hepatitis transmission in communities where it has been enacted.

“Representative Bradley and I are usually on opposite ends of the political spectrum,” said Representative Parfitt during the Summit, “But we are in 100% agreement on this issue [of syringe decriminalization]. I think the will is there and we will look at a way to make this happen.”

“I believe a combination of harm reduction programs and syringe decriminalization will make a vast difference in the lives of law enforcement officers,” explained former officer Earls. “I think officers need to know how to safely handle paraphernalia and needles. They need to know when to wear gloves and when to take extra precautions.”

“There are many costs associated with needle-sticks, such as the lifetime costs of HIV and hepatitis infections that are born by taxpayers for people without insurance,” said Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation. “Even diabetics who live in a bad neighborhood are afraid to carry their own needles and they put their own health and the health of law enforcement at risk. Syringe decriminalization is a low cost measure that will lower health costs and raise public health, and for those reasons I support it.”

 

Reducing Recidivism

Following the needle-stick panel, Republican Representatives Leo Daughtry and John Faircloth, as well as Democratic Senator Ed Jones, led a discussion on the need to reduce recidivism rates in North Carolina, which have climbed to nearly 40% for adults in recent years. The legislators championed the Justice Reinvestment Act, passed by the NC General Assembly in spring 2012, which aims to reduce recidivism by allowing parole officers to intervene more quickly to discipline parole violators instead of waiting months while the case lags in the courts and the negative activity continues. “The Justice Reinvestment Act is about taking money that goes into prisons and putting it into rehabilitating people,” explained Representative Daughtry.

“Communities will be safer, law enforcement will be safer, if there are more efforts directed towards opportunities to find housing and jobs [for ex-offenders],” said retired officer Ronald Martin.

 “When I started [in law enforcement] 35 years ago I had the idea that we should lock up everybody and throw away the key,” said Senator Jones. “I know now that we can’t do business that way…we have to think about people as being a part of society and not remove them from society…I would ask you to make every effort to see that these [ex-offenders] have a decent starting life when they get out.”

The Representatives spoke alongside Dennis Gaddy, Executive Director of the Community Success Initiative, Bill Rowe, General Counsel and Director of Advocacy at the NC Justice Center, and Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation.

 

Utilizing Law Enforcement to Decrease Overdose Deaths

            The final Summit panel addressed law enforcement’s roll in reducing the epidemic of drug overdose deaths. Overdose death from prescription painkillers has recently passed motor vehicle fatalities as the number one cause of accidental death in the United States. North Carolina suffered over 1000 overdose deaths last year alone, mostly from opiate painkillers. Research shows that most people overdose in the presence of another person. However, current laws discourage witnesses to an overdose from calling 911 for fear of drug possession charges. Consequently, many witnesses wait too long to call emergency services, or don’t call at all, often resulting in the death of the person who has overdosed.

Some police departments around the country have begun requiring their officers to carry Narcan, a drug that reverses fatal overdoses. As police are often first to arrive at emergency scenes, especially in rural areas where ambulance arrivals are delayed, law enforcement officers have a unique opportunity to save lives with Narcan.

Lieutenant Detective Pat Glynn, champion of a Narcan program at the Quincy police department in Massachusetts, joined the Summit to discuss the success of the Quincy program.

            “A couple years ago we had 47 overdose deaths in Quincy over an 18 month period,” said Lt Det. Glynn. “After we started the Narcan program, from October 2010 to June 2012 overdose deaths dropped to 16, and our officers conducted 90 successful overdose reversals with Narcan…We had a family member feel so comfortable [with police using Narcan] that they pulled up to the parking lot of the police station, knocked on the door and the police were able to come out with Narcan and save the individual’s life. It’s refreshing to see people coming to us and looking at [law enforcement] in a different light.”

            In addition to Narcan programs, legislators participating in the Summit discussed 911 Good Samaritan laws, which would grant amnesty to witnesses to an overdose who call emergency services to save a person’s life.

Representative Parfitt offered a personal perspective on overdose. “At one point my 85 year old aunt was admitted to Duke with a drug overdose from Valium…we have to overcome the idea that [drug overdoses happen to] other people, not us…a lot of people are affected because someone inappropriately uses drugs…there are some simple solutions and one thing we can do here is look at the 911 Good Samaritan bill.”

There is a larger problem with prescription drugs in America than there is with illegal drugs,” said Representative Bradley. “We have here potential programs to help reduce the rate of overdose and death… and one is immunity for emergency 911 calls, the medical amnesty program, and another is the Narcan program to keep Narcan in vehicles so we can respond right away.”

“The Good Samaritan laws and Narcan programs honor life…this is an issue that unites people across the political spectrum and I find that personally refreshing,” said Jon Sanders of the John Locke Foundation.

 

Comments on the Summit from Participants

 

“I thought [the Summit] was fantastic. [We] had a great cross section of people from different professional groups, which was really important. The only thing [we] needed was some people who were really not believers so we can hear them and ask what their problems are… I need to find out what is standing in the way, what those road blocks are.”

            — Representative Dianne Parfitt, (D)

 

“[Last year] I said we needed to reach out more to law enforcement [on syringe decriminalization], and that has been done. The foundation is now really solid to walk up to groups who can really make [syringe decriminalization] happen in the legislature, the Sheriffs Association for example, or the Police Benevolence Association… if you get these groups on board not only will you get legislation passed, but you will get it passed overwhelmingly.”

            — Representative Glen Bradley, (R)

 

“I thought it was a remarkable event and a tribute to NCHRC that [they] were able to pull this off. I wish every state would do this. It’s good to raise awareness with legislators and let them know what is going on.”

            — Leigh Maddox, retired Captain of Maryland State Police

 

“If I had had a chance to work with the guys like [Lt Det Glynn], I might have stuck around [the force] longer…nobody is talking about [these law enforcement issues]. It almost has to come from the top down. A lieutenant needs to bring it up and say, here is what we are going to do.”

            — Jen Earls, retired Chicago police officer

 

“There is really no down side to [adopting these measures].”

            — Ronald Martin, retired law enforcement detective from the New York police department

 

 “I really enjoyed the forum today, and I learned a lot. [The Summit] will help build agency collaboration on issues we have been fighting for over the last 3-4 yrs at the legislature.”

            — Dennis Gaddy, Executive Director of Community Success Initiative

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Event Update: North Carolina Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit

Event: North Carolina Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit

06/12/2012

*When: June 12th, 2012

*What Time is the Event: Registration starts at 8am, the event begins at 9am and will go through 1pm. A lunch will be served to registered guests after the summit.

*Where do I sign up: http://tinyurl.com/NCdrugpolicy

*Where: North Carolina Legislative Auditorium, 16 Jones Street, Raleigh, NC

*Who Should Attend: Law Enforcement, Legislators, Legislative Support Staff, Public Health Officials, Harm Reductionists, Drug Policy Reformers and the Substance Abuse Community

*What Will be Covered: Law Enforcement Needlestick Reduction, Law Enforcement Safety around Drug Users and Preventing Drug Overdose Deaths and Drug Policy

*Who Will be Presenting: Law Enforcement Safety Experts, Drug Policy Experts and Republican and Democratic Legislators

*Event Contact: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050, robert.bb.childs@gmail.com

EVENT UPDATE:

Legislators Speaking at the Event:

Dan Ingle, Leo Daughtry, Ed Jones, Diane Parfitt, and Glenn Bradley

Legislators Signed Up to Attend:

John Torbett, G. L. Pridgen, Rayne Brown, Harry Warren, Grier Martin, Chuck McGrady, Larry Brown, Harry Brown, Verla Insko, Susi Hamilton, Maggie Jeffus, Ray Rapp, Pricey Harrison, Marilyn Avila, Marian N. McLawhorn, Larry Pittman, John Faircloth, Tom Apodaca, Bill Cook, Jim Davis, Ken Goodman, Ellie Kinnaird, Alma Adams and William (Bill) Brawley

US Senators

The office of Kay Hagan

Groups Presenting:
John Locke Foundation, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, Drug Policy Alliance, Project Lazarus, and the 2nd Chances Coalition, NC Justice Center and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Law Enforcement Speakers:

Ronald Martin, Jen Earls, Leigh Maddox and Pat Glynn

Event: Syringe Access & Law Enforcement: Building Alliances

WHEN: June 13th, 2012

WHAT TIME IS THE EVENT: Registration starts at 8:30am, and the event begins at 9 am and will go through 4pm.

WHERE: Durham, NC (Event site will be determined by the amount of people attending)

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: HIV/Hepatitis Prevention Service Workers, Law Enforcement, Public Health Officials, Harm Reductionists, Law Enforcement, Drug Policy Reformers, People Who Work With Drug Users and the Substance Abuse Community

Description of Event:

Syringe access is a vital intervention to prevent HIV and hep C infections among people who inject drugs. Fear of poor interactions with law enforcement is one of the most significant barriers for drug users in accessing syringe services, carrying sufficient sterile syringes to meet their injecting needs, and returning used syringes to appropriate disposal facilities. This training is for service providers that work with people who inject drugs and covers strategies and resources to improve relationships with law enforcement. This interactive workshop will explore these issues from the multiple perspectives of people who inject drugs, service providers and police. We will also discuss how to support participants in successfully advocating for themselves when approached by police officers and how we can build collaborative relationships with law enforcement officials and other community members.

WHO WILL BE PRESENTING: Robert Childs, Executive Director North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and Narelle Ellendon, Syringe Access Expansion Coordinator, the National Harm Reduction Coalition

EVENT CONTACT: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050,

robert.bb.childs@gmail.com

SIGN-UP PAGE: http://tinyurl.com/NCHRC-SyringeTraining

Event: Law Enforcement Safety & Drug Policy Summit

WHEN: June 12th, 2012

WHAT TIME IS THE EVENT: Registration starts at 8 am, and the event begins at 9 am and will go through Noon. A lunch will be served to registered guests after the summit.

WHERE: North Carolina Legislative Auditorium, 16 Jones Street, Raleigh, NC

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement, Legislators, Legislative

Support Staff, Public Health Officials, Lobbyists, Harm Reductionists,

Drug Policy Reformers, Policy Reformers, People Who Work With

Incarcerated Populations and the Substance Abuse Community

WHAT WILL BE COVERED: Law Enforcement Needlestick Reduction, Law

Enforcement Safety around Drug Overdoses, Reducing Recidivism While

Maintaining Public Order and Drug Policy Reform

WHO WILL BE PRESENTING: Law Enforcement Safety Experts,

Law Enforcement, Drug Policy Experts and Republican & Democratic

Legislators, and Conservative, Liberal & Moderate Policy Institutes

EVENT CONTACT: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050,

robert.bb.childs@gmail.com

SIGN-UP PAGE: http://tinyurl.com/NCdrugpolicy

According to one study, In states where syringes are criminalized, 1 in 3 officers will experience a needle stick, putting them at risk for contracting HIV and hepatitis B and C. Join three former law enforcement members (Sam Knisley, former detective, North Carolina Special Police Unit; Jen Earls, former officer, Chicago Police; and Ron Martin, former sergeant, New York City Police) in their discussion with Robert Childs, Executive Director of the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, about safety around handling drug paraphernalia. In this segment, the former law enforcement members answer the following questions: “What are the dangers of handling drug paraphernalia?”; “What are the dangers of handling syringes?”; and “What are the dangers of handling crack pipes?”.

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Harm Reduction and Law Enforcement-Check out the podcast

Latest Harm Reduction Coalition podcast: http://harmreduction.org/publication-type/podcast/working-with-law-enforcement/
Podcast 67 – April 17, 2012

Narelle Ellendon, Harm Reduction Coalition
Corey Davis, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition
Molly Bannerman, Counterfit
Leo Beletsky, Northeastern University School of Law

Establishing a relationship with law enforcement is an essential component of creating a solid harm reduction program. This podcast features conversations on building those relationships. Interviews with Harm Reduction Coalition’s Narelle Ellendon, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition’s Corey Davis, Molly Bannerman from Counterfit in Toronto, and Leo Beletsky of Northeastern University School of Law. Resources: Harm Reduction Coalition, plus LEAHRN, and info on the North Carolina Law Enforcement Safety and Drug Policy Summit.

Via Robert….

Check out this great podcast, it features NCHRC’s Board president Corey Davis. If you are interested in this topic consider joining us at the Law Enforcement and Drug Policy Summit in Raleigh, NC on June 12th, 2012. http://tinyurl.com/NCdrugpolicy

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Event: Law Enforcement Safety & Drug Policy Summit

Event: Law Enforcement Safety & Drug Policy Summit

WHEN: June 12th, 2012

WHAT TIME IS THE EVENT: Registration starts at 8 am, and the event begins at 9 am and will go through Noon. A lunch will be served to registered guests after the summit.

WHERE: North Carolina Legislative Auditorium, 16 Jones Street, Raleigh, NC

WHO SHOULD ATTEND: Law Enforcement, Legislators, Legislative Support Staff, Public Health Officials, Lobbyists, Harm Reductionists, Drug Policy Reformers, Policy Reformers, People Who Work With Incarcerated Populations and the Substance Abuse Community

WHAT WILL BE COVERED: Law Enforcement Needlestick Reduction, Law Enforcement Safety around Drug Overdoses, Reducing Recidivism While Maintaining Public Order and Drug Policy Reform

WHO WILL BE PRESENTING: Law Enforcement Safety Experts, Law Enforcement, Drug Policy Experts and Republican & Democratic Legislators, and Conservative, Liberal & Moderate Policy Institutes

EVENT CONTACT: Robert Childs, MPH (336) 543-8050, robert.bb.childs@gmail.com

SIGN-UP PAGE: http://tinyurl.com/NCdrugpolicy

1 note