The Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP) is a nonprofit organization of current and former police, judges, prosecutors and other justice system professionals who oppose the War on Drugs and advocate for criminal justice reform and evidence-based approaches to public health and safety.
To mark International Overdose Awareness Day on August 31, LEAP* produced a video (which you can watch above, or here) in which some of its members make the case for harm reduction to prevent more lives being lost.
“If we don’t come together to support harm reduction,” LEAP stated in support of this campaign, “this epidemic will continue to grow. People will die. Families will lose everything. Communities will suffer. We need … to fight addiction with compassion, and prevent overdose not through blindly preaching abstinence, but through realistic safeguards and by removing the stigma from drug use … It’s time to move past fear and judgement to a place of practical understanding and community investment.”
In the video, Chief Tom Synan of the Newtown Police Department, Ohio and the Hamilton County Heroin Coalition speaks of how his community has benefited from a diversion program, a quick-response team of addiction specialists, syringe services, and a program through which 65 companies have pledged to hire and support people with addiction issues. “If the entire community is working on this issue, it would be less likely for us to fail,” he says, “because one part would be able to catch where the other wouldn’t.”
Lt. Diane Goldstein (Ret.) formerly of the Redondo Beach Police Department in California, speaks to the efficacy of harm reduction interventions, and how naloxone “needs to be in the hands of every drug user, every friend, family, at public libraries and schools across the country, because you never know when you could save a life.”
Chief Justice Tina Nadeau of the Superior Court of New Hampshire attests to the effectiveness of overdose prevention centers (otherwise known as supervised injection facilities or safe consumption sites), which are legal in many countries but not the US. “It’s been rigorously studied by peer-reviewed scientific journals and has demonstrated that not once has anybody died of an overdose who has used their services, [but] it has reduced HIV incidence,” she notes. “We’re also seeing significant reduction in the use of [public health] resources.”
*LEAP is the fiscal sponsor of The Influence Foundation, which operates Filter. Lt. Diane Goldstein is a member of the board of directors of The Influence Foundation.