Days after an Ohio police officer accidentally overdosed on fentanyl during a drug seizure, Sen. Sherrod Brown is asking the Bureau of Justice Assistance to quickly send funds to local police departments battling widespread opioid abuse.
"This incident serves as a stark reminder of the very real threat law enforcement officers face in dealing with the current opioid crisis," Brown said in a letter to Acting Director Tracey Trautman.
On Sunday, East Liverpool police officer Chris Green encountered a suspect with white powder on his car seats, shoes and clothing, East Liverpool Captain Patrick Wright said.
When Green got back to his police station, another officer noticed he had some of the white powder on his shirt, Wright said. Green brushed off the powder.
An hour later, authorities said Green passed out at the station and overdosed on the white powder – which was later determined to be fentanyl. The drug can get into the body just through contact with the skin. It took four doses of Narcan to revive him.
"Although the officer followed proper opioid response protocol in making the arrest, resources and detection devices are available that could have lessened the risk posed to the officer during the initial encounter," Brown said.
In his letter, Brown referenced the Comprehensive Opioid Abuse Grant program, which Congress passed last year. Brown said the program allocates funds to agencies and groups battling widespread opioid abuse -- but he wants the feds to distribute those funds faster.
"Keeping our police officers safe and unharmed is a top priority for Congress, as I know it is for the Department of Justice," Brown said. "As threats to our officers’ safety evolve, so must our responsibility to guard against those threats."
Groups must apply for grants through the program, Brown said.
"I strongly urge your office to continue the work you have done and move as swiftly as possible in making sure that this funding gets to the communities that need it most in Ohio and across the country," the senator said.