BARRIE, Ont.—The union representing provincial police officers in Ontario is calling on the Special Investigations Unit to end the practice of launching an investigation when an officer unsuccessfully administers naloxone to an overdose victim.
Ontario Provincial Police Association president Rob Jamieson said officers end up being the subject of an SIU investigation for doing what any first responder would do trying to save a life.
Jamieson said he'd like to see the police watchdog agency use a practice similar to British Columbia, where the Independent Investigations Office exempts officers whose life-saving measures are unsuccessful.
The SIU—an arm's-length agency that investigates reports involving police where there has been death, serious injury or allegations of sexual assault—did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Jamieson said when officers use naloxone—which can reverse opioid overdoses—and the victim does not survive, they know that a “long and stressful” investigation by the SIU will follow.
Despite these investigations, he said OPP officers will continue to administer naloxone when they encounter someone in need.
“Our members are highly trained and will continue to act professionally in these situations, as they always do, and administer naloxone,” Jamieson said yesterday in a release.
But he added there is a high level of concern among officers that they will “end up being the subject of an SIU investigation for simply doing their job and trying to save a life.”
“Putting an officer through a traumatic situation, then asking them to relive that very trauma through the SIU investigation could be detrimental to their mental health,” Jamieson said.