COUNTRYSIDE – The Countryside Police Department was recently approved to implement a new Overdose Prevention Program in the community.
The program – a partnership between the department and the Chicago Recovery Alliance – allows officers to be equipped with Naloxone, an antidote for prescription opiate and heroin overdoses.
Countryside will be the first department in Cook County to utilize the program, according to Chief of Police Joe Ford.
Bringing the program to town allows Countryside to "stay on the cutting edge," Ford said.
Ford said he'd rather institute the program and hope to never use it, rather than not having it available when needed.
"We really don't have a major addiction problem in the community," Ford said. "But all it takes is one and this drug is becoming more prevalent."
Ford added that studies have shown emergency room visits for heroin and opiate overdoses are on the rise.
Over the next coming months, officers will be trained to learn how to properly administer Naloxone. Once the training is complete, the antidote kits will be attached to the Automated External Defibrillator units, which are used on ambulance calls, Ford said.
The Overdose Prevention Program also allows parents and siblings of addicts to be trained to use the antidote.
"It'll certainly mean something to the families dealing with addiction [to] know the police department is there for them," Ford said.
The main idea in the police department is to bring community policing to another level, according to Ford. He said the police are public servants who are there to help.
"[The program] is not because we have a problem," Ford said. "It's because we want to be out ahead of any problem and be prepared for anything."