Officer’s fentanyl crisis discussed

Photo credit to CBC/Radio-Canada

A Q&A with Chief John Lane
East Liverpool (Ohio) Police Department

The opioid epidemic continues to stretch across the United States, just as it has been doing in Canada and the United Kingdom. Last month, an East Liverpool (Ohio) police officer accidentally came into contact with fentanyl and overdosed.

He was treated with one dose of Narcan at the station and three more at the local hospital to save his life.

We spoke to Chief John Lane, whose department of 17 officers has had multiple run-ins with fentanyl-related incidents, and asked him five questions about the impacts of the epidemic on the community of 11,000 people along Ohio’s eastern border with Pennsylvania.

How is the officer now?

He is doing well. He is back to work. He is a bulldog, he is always chasing drugs. It took him a few days before he started feeling better but he is doing well now. He had some chest pains afterward. They say the drug slows your heart way down, and the Narcan gives a shock to the system to revive you.

How does a police chief lead under these types of conditions?

I have to try to think ahead of ways to protect my guys. They are trying to protect the city and sometimes you have to protect them from themselves because these guys are hard charges, and they have to think about themselves. They think they are invincible, and all it takes is just touching touch it. In this case, the officer just brushed some power off his shirt. It’s hard to get them to slow down, and this didn’t even happen out on the streets. It’s also important that they have to think about them bringing it home to their families, their kids, or anyone around them. This stuff is that strong, that dangerous.

What changes in protocol have you made?

It is hard with a small department. We don’t have a lot of people or a lot of money. You need the gloves, the masks, the protective gear. You need to have Narcan. You can touch fentanyl or inhale it, and just like that, it’s got you. It is scary to think about. Our guys don’t carry Narcan, we leave that to the ambulance paramedics. They are the professionals, and really, how much can we carry in our cars? How much is enough? I’d rather the paramedics are dealing with that. If we were a rural county, it might be a different story.

In a small town like this, we run out of Narcan. The ambulances carry it, and when they get there to the scene to use, they are counting it out, saying how many cans they have left. They were down to their last one on one case.

The big changes are when we do evidence collection. There are no more field tests. We want two guys back at the station, together, gloved up, double bags, everything we can possibly do so we aren’t leaving a trail of it. Even if we think it is cocaine, and sometime people tell us it is and they are lying but they are already getting arrested. They don’t care.

How does the opioid crisis compare with previous narcotics-driven epidemics?

As far as the officers or people innocent of it being overcome by it, there’s never been anything like it in my career. The danger is incredible. I worry about it being used as a weapon. If people sprinkled it somewhere above where you had a lot of people, you could have a mass casualty situation. Get it in the air. Spread it on doorknobs. It is that strong. It is a terrorist’s dream. I have never heard of anyone worrying about it being used as a weapon. But it is so simple, just touching it will take you down. Someone could just sprinkle it on door knobs. My goodness, the possibilities are endless.

In September 2016, the department released images of an overdosed couple passed out with a 4-year-old child. The department received some criticism for it but you were adamant that it was the right move. You spoke to a reporter and said, “Enough already. People need to know what is happening. This picture is graphic, it’s disturbing. I need people to get upset and help us take back the streets. I need the presidential candidates to look at this and tell me what they will do to fix it.” Three quarters of a year later, do you still feel the same way?

People even today don’t want to realize how dangerous these things are. In that particular picture, the kid is in the back seat. What do kids do? Touch everything. It can kill everybody. I don’t think people realize how dangerous it is. And that was just fentanyl, not carfentanil, which is so much stronger.

I will tell you what, the laws are going to have to change when it comes to this stuff simply because of how dangerous it is.

I have talked to some people who say they haven’t had to deal with it. I tell them, it’s there. They just haven’t had to experience it. Be glad that’s the case, but it won’t last. All of that stuff is around. It’s in just about every community. And if they ain’t got it yet, it is coming.

 

Chief John Lane has been with the East Liverpool Police Department for 22 years where he started his career as a patrolman. He was promoted to captain in 2000 and then took over as chief in 2013. He graduated from Ohio State with a Bachelor of Arts degree in criminal justice.

There is no such thing as a free body camera

By Chief Brandon del Pozo
Burlington (VT) Police Department

In the early days of police body cameras, the few companies that served the market relied on an emergency procurement model: Pioneering police departments would buy the cameras in response to crises to show the public they were engaging in the reforms necessary to keep their trust.

This typically followed an ugly use-of-force incident or a corruption scandal. Other forward-thinking chiefs paid high prices for body cameras to keep ahead of these crises, knowing they were purchasing a technology in its earliest stages of its development, when it was likely to be the most expensive.

Police body cameras have evolved since then. They are quickly becoming a standard piece of police equipment, but in doing so they are also becoming a standard piece of consumer electronics.

Body cameras are not especially complicated devices – they comprise a camera, battery, a microphone, a button or two and a processor in a rugged case. They are like a smartphone without a screen.

It follows that, as with these phones, the profits won’t come from the devices themselves, which will be basically given away for free. Read More & Share

Policing is a relationship driven business

By Chief Rick Myers
City of Newport News (Va.) Police Department

Somewhere along the journey of providing our officers with better tools, better training, increasing their safety and protection and access through advanced technologies of real-time information, we forgot about a basic reality: All policing is done through relationships.

It is just as important that we provide training and tools to maximize relationship building as it is the many other facets of policing.

Relationships cannot be developed without direct human interaction. At a time when it seems folks are more adept at communicating through thumbs on a phone’s keyboard than looking eye-to-eye, it falls on police leadership to recognize skill deficiencies that we can train and improve.

Read More & Share

Quantifying, justifying cost of body-worn cameras

By Valarie Findlay
Research Fellow, Police Foundation

Body-worn camera equipment and infrastructure, program development and implementation are by no means cheap. Assessing their cost-benefit and return on investment is not only crucial but straightforward and easy — if you’re doing it wrong. And you don’t want to do it wrong.

Justifying a multi-million dollar expenditure when policing budgets are hard fought for and stretched thin can be a tricky proposition. With many organizations pulling back after implementing BWC pilots, mostly due to high storage and maintenance costs, justification has become more important, with higher accountability and scrutiny. With conceptual costing and actual costing often having different price tags, ad hoc implementation that lacks costing, analysis and planning is no longer acceptable. Read More & Share

Policing leaders need to align their views with the public

By Chief Art Acevedo
Houston Police Department

I am a supporter of traditions. They serve an important role in keeping the positive parts of the past alive.

When it comes to policing, the heritage we celebrate, honor and maintain should be a tradition of excellence.

But tradition should not be about the evolution of an organization. Too often, policing agencies fall back on tradition as an excuse to prevent change. We must never allow our careers to become so calloused that we stop changing.

Here’s a good example. Most policing agencies in the United States require officers to keep all tattoos hidden from the public. That means officers with tattoos on their arms have to wear long sleeved shirts or cover sleeves if they are to have any interaction with people outside the department. Read More & Share

Drones help augment a police department’s capabilities to fight crime

By Jarrod Burguan
San Bernardino Police Chief

These days, the term “drone” elicits all sorts of emotional reactions.

Some see it as fun, a hobby, a chance to explore a world above the ground that you couldn’t do previously without spending a lot of money. Others see it as a viable operational tool that can be used under numerous work opportunities.

And still more see it as an infringement on privacy at best and a militarized Big Brother at its worst.

I get it — I understand all of them.

In a way, not one of those reactions is wrong. Just as is the case with all innovations, the potential is there for drones to be any and all of those things. Read More & Share

Going back to school is worth the effort – if you’re committed

higgensBy Ronnell Higgins
Yale Police Chief

On the fateful day that President John Kennedy was assassinated, he was prepared to give a speech in which he planned to say that “leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Nearly two years ago, I decided I wanted to go back to school. Our department had been part of a high-profile case involving the son of a New York Times columnist, which I have written about before.

That situation took me out of my comfort zone. I realized that police chiefs are all one major incident away from no longer being the police chief.  I write that very candidly, and I also write that knowing that Yale University supported my department and me in that situation. Read More & Share

Officers must learn to tell their stories

Tracy Miller of TM Consulting. Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge OCBy Tracy Miller
Orange County (CA) Assistant District Attorney

The officer who sat across from me at my kitchen table had clearly enjoyed a prodigious career but as he talked about himself, those tales weren’t materializing. I could see right then, if I were choosing whether to hire him, he would fail.

I’d seen it many times before. Cops are great at being cops. They do so many amazing things, they sacrifice so much, and they fight like hell for the people they pledge to defend.

But there are two things that cops are not good at: speaking up for themselves and showing they can be vulnerable. Read More & Share

Want to Connect Better to Your Community? Just Ask Questions

officer

By James A. Cervera
Virginia Beach (Va.) Police Chief

A few years ago, some of my officers began investigating a shooting in which a guy had disappeared after he killed his wife and wounded his adult stepson.

As some of the officers began looking for the man, some kids rolled up on their bikes.

“Are you looking for that guy who shot those people?” one of the kids asked before saying as he pointed, “because he is hiding over there.”

Someone disconnected from our city might be surprised about that. But I’m not. That’s the type of relationship we have with our community.

It wasn’t always like that. Building relationships takes time, effort and some sweat. You have to be IN your community if you want to know the people that live there and make sure they know you.   Read More & Share

Policing takes a village, too

FB_IMG_1489107867360By Chief Damon Williams
Mooresville (NC) Police Department

Community policing can bring the entire town onto your team. And working together means communication, relationships.

No matter the demographics of the department, no matter the socio-economics of the community, relating as people and neighbors changes everything.

When I became chief in Mooreseville in April, I wanted to ease tensions in this large department, so I met one-on-one with every member of my staff — sometimes for 30 minutes, sometimes for hours. It gave me an opportunity to hear from them what they thought was working and what wasn’t. We molded our department into one of trust, partnership and team-building. I have a true open-door policy. If they come in and sit, I will never turn staff away.

How does that bridge with community? When you have an increase in morale in the department, it increases productivity in the community. In fact I have the same open-door policy with the community. If someone comes in, talk with me no matter how long it takes. Be open, talk about things that are unpleasant, and talk about how to fix it. Read More & Share

COMING SOON!
New Police Foundation Reports and Training Opportunities!