The Toronto Police Service is slated to begin what it calls the ‘structured deployment’ of naloxone nasal spray to officers.
Members of the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) approved on Thursday using the spray, which reverses the effects of an opioid drug overdose.
“Last year, I asked Chief Mark Saunders to look at issuing Naloxone to some officers to help combat the overdose crisis. Today, @TorontoPolice confirmed they will begin a structured deployment of Naloxone nasal spray,” Mayor John Tory tweeted Thursday afternoon, adding drug squad, emergency task force sergeants and detectives, canine units, and gun and gang task force officers will receive naloxone.
Toronto police confirmed to Global News that while the phase-in is forthcoming, a start date has not been settled on.
“A structured deployment of Naloxone would in all likelihood assist in alleviating public and officer concerns regarding opioid safety issues, particularly in neighbourhoods surrounding supervised injection sites,” a report to the TPSB read.
It goes on to note that the epicentre for suspected opioid overdose calls to Toronto Paramedic Services, is in the downtown core between Bathurst Street and the Don Valley Parkway, and Lake Shore Boulevard and Bloor Street. The proposed deployment would see every front line officer in that area equipped with the nasal spray form of the drug.
A number of police services in the province already carry the overdose-reducing kits, including Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Chief Mark Saunders had expressed concern over how officers who administered the drug would be treated by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU).
Thousands of Canadians died as a result of opioid overdoses in 2017.
Last December, the government of Ontario announced funding for firefighters and police to carry naloxone kits when they respond to emergencies.