New Castle, DE – Joined by elected officials, law enforcement officers, first responders, non-profit leaders, and families who have lost loved ones to drug overdoses, Governor Markell today signed legislation authorizing law enforcement officers to carry Naloxone, a prescription drug that counteracts the effects of opioid-related overdoses.
House Bill 388, sponsored by Rep. Mike Barbieri (D – Newark) and Sens. Bethany Hall-Long (D – Middletown) and Karen Peterson (D – Stanton), allows peace officers who have completed a Delaware Health and Social Services approved training course to receive, carry, and administer the drug Naloxone, also called Narcan, and provides immunity to officers who administer the drug in good faith. Rep. Deb Heffernan was a co-sponsor as well and attended the signing ceremony.
Under HB 388, a “peace officer” is any public officer authorized to make arrests in criminal cases.
“By equipping law enforcement officers with an important tool to prevent deadly overdoses, we can help reduce the toll that heroin and other dangerous opiates are taking on our state,” said Governor Markell. “This simple piece of legislation has the potential to save lives.”
At today’s event, held at the New Castle County Public Safety Building, Rep. Barbieri thanked Governor Markell for his focus on addiction and for making changes in the treatment system. Rep. Barbieri, as well as Governor Markell, also thanked County Executive Tom Gordon and the New Castle County Police Department for the help they provided to get this legislation passed.
“We need to keep individuals who are suffering from addiction alive so they can enter recovery,” said Rep. Barbieri, adding that the wider access to naloxone also helps “to protect the public generally.”
During the last week of the Legislative Session, Governor Markell signed a companion bill to this legislation. Senate Bill 219 allows family, friends and members of the community to buy naloxone after they have been trained by the Department of Health and Social Services.
“This builds on our efforts to make this life-saving drug available to friends and family members of people who are addicted to this destructive drug,” said Sen. Hall-Long, who also sponsored SB 219. “By expanding access and training we can save even more lives.”
The new laws reinforce previous efforts to combat prescription drug abuse, which kills more Delawareans every year than traffic accidents.
“As we know, Delaware is battling a serious heroin problem and putting this drug in the hands of properly trained police will save lives,” said Sen. Peterson. “I hope that people saved by Naloxone will recognize their good fortune and take the steps needed to put their lives on a new path.”