The St. Charles County Police Department plays a key role in the fight against opioid abuse in our community. Officers see the devastating effect of the epidemic firsthand because they are often first on the scene when an overdose occurs. In 2015, the department became the first law enforcement agency in the county and in the St. Louis metropolitan area to train and authorize officers to carry and administer NARCAN®, an opioid and heroin overdose reversal drug. All commissioned officers are trained to administer NARCAN® and officers carry the medication on their duty belts. Because Fentanyl can be so potent and exposure can be life-threatening, NARCAN® also is available for staff in the St. Charles County Criminalistics Laboratory and for the department’s five canines in the event of exposure during analysis and searches.
“Every second counts in an overdose situation, so our officers need to be able to act immediately,” explains St. Charles County Police Chief David Todd. “Each time NARCAN® is administered, we hope the treatment encourages drug abusers to seek help, change their lives, reverse the epidemic, and improve our community.”
From November 2015 to September 2019, officers administered 84 units of NARCAN®. Some overdose calls for service require officers to administer at least two units in order to revive the individual, depleting their supply. The department budgeted $7,000 for 2019 to purchase NARCAN® rescue kits. Kits are purchased through the General Fund, the principal operating fund of St. Charles County Government that supports the department and is funded by sales tax dollars. This cost is in addition to expenditures for additional patrolling and overtime due to more opioid-related crime.
Beyond the Police Department, the epidemic has affected County operations through an increased number of opioid-related calls for assistance to 911, a rising County jail population, and a higher number of drug-related cases in the St. Charles County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. In August 2018, St. Charles County filed a lawsuit against pharmaceutical manufacturers and drug distributors on behalf of taxpayers to recoup money spent on additional expenditures caused by the opioid epidemic.