In further response to addressing the opioid epidemic in Portland, Police Chief Michael Sauschuck today announced that the Police Department has instituted a new policy for all regularly assigned patrol officers to be equipped with narcan. Every officer has been trained on proper administration of the drug, which works by blocking the effects of opioids.
“Since the beginning of this year, we’ve been working on a three-pronged strategy to fight addiction by increasing our educational efforts, community awareness, and facilitating treatment through our Law Enforcement Addiction Advocacy Program (LEAAP),” said Chief Michael Sauschuck. “Having our officers carry narcan is a logical component to this effort for those times in which we are the first to arrive on scene.”
The Police Department is receiving the narcan doses free of charge from the Attorney General’s Office.
In December of 2015, the City and the Police Department announced the creation of the LEAAP program, and in January of 2016, the City hired Oliver G. Bradeen as the new Substance Use Disorder Liaison to run the program. The program was created to help address the significant increase in drug overdoses and deaths in the community.
LEAAP replicates the Police Department’s nationally recognized mental health co-responder program. Bradeen conducts proactive, regular, ongoing outreach with known drug users. He develops relationships in the community, acts as a subject matter expert to the police department, and assists those suffering from substance use disorders in exploring treatment options. Finally, he provides education and awareness to police officers and the community with the goal of transforming the collective mindset so that addiction is viewed as a medical problem, not a criminal issue. He also serves family members and friends seeking advice and assistance in obtaining help for their loved ones.
The newly created position is funded using asset forfeiture money seized from drug dealers. Bradeen is located at the police station, and works closely with officers and detectives on the streets and in the neighborhoods. He engages known users who have been identified by officers, community policing coordinators, drug intelligence, and even family members – and then provides support and offer treatment options.