Police departments across the country are equipping officers with Narcan, a drug that’s expensive but can bring drug users back from the brink of death, reversing the effects of an opioid overdose.
But in Butler County, the police can’t use it. The sheriff of the county in Ohio, where more people die from overdoses than from any other cause, won’t let his officers carry the drug.
“I don’t do Narcan,” Sheriff Richard Jones told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “They never carried it,” he added. “Nor will they. That’s my stance.”
Jones’s office did not immediately respond to VICE News’s request for comment.
Jones thinks that carrying Narcan, the brand-name version of naloxone, puts his deputies at risk: the people revived with the drug can sometimes become hostile toward police officers, he says. But people aren’t known to become violent after being treated with Narcan.
“It’s safe enough to be used by just about anybody, including family members and bystanders,” said Dr. Fred Baurer, president of the Pennsylvania Society of Addiction Medicine. “I’ve never heard of violence being used as a reason not to administer it.”
“It’s absurd to deny police, who are often first responders, the ability to save someone,” Baurer added.
In 2016, a record 192 overdoses were recorded in Butler County. Officers in neighboring counties do carry the drug.
A city councilperson in Butler County recently came under fire for suggesting that emergency personnel should stop responding to calls from people who overdoes repeatedly, prompting the city manager to issue a statement emphasizing that they do respond to each call.
Jones is no stranger to the national spotlight. He stumped for Trump early in the campaign and has long been known for his harsh stance on immigration. He recently suggested using the “mother of all bombs” on Mexican cartels, and, in 2014, sent a bill to the Mexican government for $900,000 for housing immigrants in his jails.
Mexico didn’t pay.