PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - The Phoenix Police Department is expected to finish training officers next month on how to use the overdose-reversal drug, Naloxone.
The drug, often referred to its generic name, Narcan, comes in different forms.
The Phoenix Police Department has received 1,800 kits, each with two doses of the spray, marking a major pivot in the way officers respond when they suspect an overdose.
In February, Arizona’s Family did a month-long investigation into the opioid crisis which, in part, found most law enforcement agencies in the state have officers carrying the life-saving drug, but the largest police agency, the Phoenix Police Department, was not participating.
At the time, Phoenix Police said they rely on the fire department for help when encountering someone who may be suffering an overdose.
In April, Phoenix Police Department officials said they would consider equipping patrol officers with Naloxone but only to treat other officers in cases of accidental exposure to opioids.
Days later, Arizona’s Family learned the Arizona Department of Health Services had enough funding to provide 8,000 free kits to law enforcement. Any agency interested in obtaining the free kits must apply for a grant through AZDHS.
“So many emails, they’re emails were blowing up and not just by me,” says Peoria mom and recovery advocate, Michelle Hamby.
Hamby, along with fellow advocates, has been demanding the Phoenix Police Department to equip officers with Naloxone because, in many cases, police officers are the first to respond to emergency calls and waiting for the fire department can cost lives.
“I would not stop, I would not stop until it happened,” says Hamby.
Her mission was a personal one. Hamby has lost two kids to overdose.
After Arizona Family’s reporting on the AZDHS grant, the Phoenix Police Department applied for it and received the kits.
Officers assigned to Patrol, and the Downtown Operations Unit are the first to receive the Naloxone training, followed by officers in the department’s Airport and Transit Bureaus.
All Phoenix Police Recruits will receive the training beginning with the current academy class.
Advocates, like Hamby, applaud the move by Phoenix Police. Hamby says she doesn’t want another family to lose a loved one to opioid overdose. Her kids are her motivation to make change.
“I had a friend tell me that they were up there pointing down at me saying that’s my mom and she rocks,” says Hamby.
Previously only a select few officers carried Naloxone. The expanded program is part of an overall effort by the Phoenix Police Department to develop policies for medical intervention.
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