‘We won’t have this situation again’: Regina police overdose case under review
A Moose Jaw man is now facing drugs charges after being revived from an overdose, but did the Regina Police Service (RPS) get it right?
After an inquiry by Global Saskatoon, it turns out the federal Crown had similar questions about the case and whether a new law would shelter him from subsequent charges.
The charges stem from an incident on Sept. 3 when police were called to a hotel on east Victoria Avenue at around 9 a.m. CT.
Officers found Randal Ross Rochat, 43, in extreme medical distress and suffering from a suspect drug overdose.
Paramedics rushed him to Regina General Hospital, Rochat survived and at 11:30 a.m. that same morning he was charged with drug possession.
The charges were laid after police conducted an investigation and found drugs in his room.
Rochat is now to appear in Regina provincial court on Oct. 11.
An inquiry by Global Saskatoon was made as to why he wasn’t protected by the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act, which means he never would have been charged in the first place.
Regina Police Service said the federal Crown reached out as well and is now reviewing the file.
“Our members were briefed again on the importance of the changes, what those changes were and hopefully we won’t have this situation again,” RPS deputy chief Dean Rae said.
This is the first time the service has encountered a case of this nature where the legislation may apply.
In Saskatoon, there have been at least two occasions where lives have been saved because of the protection the law provides.
“The person that was suffering from the overdose, they just need help so they got the help they needed,” Saskatoon Police Service Supt. Dave Haye said.
On May 4, the Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act became law across the country as opioid deaths continue to climb. According to both forces, each and every member would have been informed of the change and in Saskatoon’s case patrol members were given presentations.
“The Good Samaritan Act protects the victim of the overdose or the people assisting them from being charged with possession or certain criminal offences or breach of a court order.”
The same immunity is not applied to drug trafficking and in many cases officers have a few avenues they can turn to if there is any confusion about whether charges should be laid.
“They can consult with the supervisor at the scene, we have sergeants working 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year they are more experienced police officers,” Haye said.
“They have the option of calling directly to an on-call member from the Saskatoon integrated drug enforcement street team – the drug unit so there’s an online member there who can always provide advice.”
Moving forward, Regina Police Service said it will be providing members of its force with more education during block training in 2018.
“We have a large organization of over 500 members, about 400 sworn members so sometimes that communication doesn’t flow as smoothly as we’d like and we’re committed to making sure that our members are up to speed on all the changes – as best we can,” Rae stressed.
© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.