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Arizona DPS carrying anti-opioid overdose medications for K9 units

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LISTEN: Col. Frank Milstead - Arizona Department of Public Saftey

PHOENIX — Arizona Department of Public Safety troopers have begun carrying an anti-opioid overdose medications for the agency’s police dogs.

Agency director Col. Frank Milstead said the decision was made to provide Narcan to troopers who work with dogs in case the animal inhales a large amount of opioids.

Milstead said opioids have further complicated police work for both humans and dogs.

“If we stop someone and they have white powder, we don’t know if it’s fentanyl,” he told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Bruce St. James and Pamela Hughes on Friday.

Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. Small amounts – about the size of a fingertip – have been known to cause overdoses and death. It’s been responsible for thousands of deaths between 2000 and 2017.

Milstead said Narcan was selected because it is widely available and is not harmful.

“There’s no downside to it,” he said. “If we’re wrong … and it’s not an overdose because of opioids, it does not harm you.”

Last month, Butler County, Ohio Sheriff Richard Jones said he would not allow his troopers to carry an anti-overdose medication. He said the remedy puts officers in danger — addicts reportedly turn violent once they’re revived — and the cost to taxpayers can be prohibitive.

Milstead said he understands why some people might feel the way Jones did, but he said addiction is a complex condition that isn’t easily solved.

“The bottom line is, we’re talking about human beings and sticking a needle in your arm shouldn’t be a death sentence.”

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