Bike cops in Seattle are now armed with a tool that could save people from dying of a heroin overdose. Officers in three areas of the city will carry naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of a heroin overdose.
Seattle Police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb said officers respond to about 100 overdoses a month. He said bike cops are well positioned to get to the calls quickly.
"Bicycle officers have the ability to patrol alleyways, parking garages [and] side streets that officers in cars might not," Whitcomb said.
Officers will administer the drug while waiting for medics or firefighters to arrive.
Administering the drug early is critical. Shaving off even a few minutes is important to people with addiction and loved ones like Penny LeGate.
LeGate lost her daughter to a heroin overdose. To help other families, she has led the effort to get officers to carry naloxone. She said her daughter used to tell her "We are not throw away people, Mom."
LeGate said supplying police with naloxone "is something right here, right now, in your hip pocket that can save a life. And that's really powerful."
Dispatchers at 911 are also making a change: They will now send police, not just fire and medical responders, to overdose calls.
The federal government is making an effort to fight opioid addiction and prevent overdoses, too. Last week the Department of Health and Human Services announced new funding for health clinics nationwide to boost their supply of naloxone, among other things.