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Riverside police asks health department for support for officer's access to 'heroin antidote' drugs

Published: Monday, Nov. 18, 2013 11:43 a.m. CDT • Updated: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 9:58 p.m. CDT

RIVERSIDE – Riverside's Chief of Police Tom Weitzel has written an open letter to Dr. Terry Mason, chief medical doctor for the Cook County Department of Public Health, asking for his support to provide officers with Nylaxon, or a similar production, to administer when called to an opiate overdose.

Nylaxon and similar drugs, sometimes called a "heroin antidote" can be administered as a stick pin or nasal spray, and can stop the effects of an overdose of opiates like heroin.

In the letter, Weitzel wrote that officers beat ambulances to overdose calls "at least 40 percent of a the time, when minutes can mean life or death." He argues that officers today carry numerous enforcement tools inside their squad cars, such as radar and radiation detection units, and it is time for officers to also carry life saving overdose antidotes as well.

"I am a firm believer that the heroin antidote that we could carry on us will without a doubt save lives," Weitzel wrote.

According to the chief, Riverside, like other western suburbs and Chicago, has seen its share of heroin overdoses. According to Weitzel, officers have even responded to oversdoses in the village's lockup facilities.

When administered correctly, the antidote would have an effect as quickly as 30 to 60 seconds.

Weitzel wrote the letter to Mason asking him to support or assist in issuing prescriptions that would equip every patrol car with at least two doses.

Amy Poore, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health, said her department generally supports officers have access to drugs like Nylaxon in their squad cars. The drugs would have come from the local hospital the police department works with, though, she said.

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