Toronto cops still are not carrying the life-saving opioid overdose antidote – VICE News

As a new cluster of overdose deaths signals a worsening of the opioid crisis in Toronto, the city’s police force say they have no plans to arm officers with the lifesaving overdose antidote naloxone.

On Saturday, Toronto police released a warning after four people were found dead of suspected opioid overdoses in three days, and 20 others overdosed, something that police spokesperson Const. Craig Brister described to reporters as “quite unusual.” While it’s believed the deaths are linked to the potent synthetic opioid fentanyl that’s been responsible for thousands of deaths across the country in recent years — including a 73 percent increase in deaths from 2004 to 2015 — that’s yet to be confirmed in these cases.

Brister went on to say it’s uncommon to see these types of drug-related deaths occur so close together in time and proximity in the downtown core. Two men overdosed and died right near the location of one of the city’s three future supervised drug consumption sites, which are expected to open in the coming months, although there’s no exact date.

The Toronto police have no plans to equip the force with naloxone, despite harsh criticisms and the fact that many others across Canada and the U.S. are doing so to help combat overdoses, as well as protect officers should they come in contact with the deadly substances on the job.

Harm reduction workers throughout the city have reported a recent spike in demand for naloxone kits.

Harm reduction workers throughout the city have reported a recent spike in demand for naloxone kits, as overdoses have risen in recent months in tandem with an increasingly potent illicit drug supply. Jason Altenberg, program director at Toronto’s South Riverdale Community Health Centre, where one of the safe consumption sites will be located, said that he and his colleagues have been warning police and city officials for weeks about…

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