At overdose events, arrests by police and combative behavior are rare, study finds

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — While police officers are often dispatched alongside other first responders when drug overdoses are reported, an analysis of hundreds of overdose events in one Rhode Island city found that there were scant incidents that actually needed involvement from law enforcement.

“It was surprising and promising to find that arrests only occurred in about 1% of all cases of overdoses attended by police,” said Alexandria Macmadu, study co-author and a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Epidemiology at Brown University’s School of Public Health. “The research shows that there were few situations that truly required law enforcement presence due to safety concerns.”

The first responders who are dispatched to an overdose incident often include police, fire rescue personnel and emergency medical services, Macmadu said. In recent years, there has been an increase in the number of overdose response and prevention trainings for police, and officers are now often equipped with naloxone, a medicine that can rapidly reverse an opioid overdose. KEEP READING