Princeton police officers Sgt. Thomas Lagomarsino and Ptl. Andre Lee saved a 32-year-old man who was overdosing on heroin yesterday.
The pair responded to a report of an unresponsive male who was believed to have taken narcotics. Upon their arrival at the scene, the man was unresponsive and was struggling to breathe.
Due to knowledge that victim may have been experiencing an overdose from a suspected opioid, officers prepared and administered Narcan to the man. The Princeton First Aid & Rescue squad arrived and administered a second dose of Narcan. As they were preparing to use an A.E.D. on the man, he suddenly regained full consciousness as the Narcan took effect.
Under the provisions of the New Jersey Overdose Protection Act, overdose victims and the people reporting the overdose are not charged with a crime in order to encourage people to call for help. In Princeton, police have been carrying Narcan kits since October of 2014. They have saved at least three people who overdosed on heroin since then.
The man was referred to Recovery Advocates of America for treatment as part of the Princeton Police Department’s Community Addiction Recovery Effort program.
The Community Addiction Recovery Effort, a partnership with the Recovering Advocates of America, is a non-profit, peer to peer center that strives to reduce the stigma of addiction while providing a safe haven for addicts to receive support as they navigate the road to recovery.
Princeton is joining the Mercer County police departments of Robbinsville, Hopewell, West Windsor, and Ewing in this ongoing effort to fight addiction through education and treatment, rather than a jail cell.
Officers who encounter people via walk in reports or calls for service, and offenders or witnesses who exhibit signs of addiction will be asked if they need help fighting an addiction. If so, Recovery Advocates of America will be notified and can respond within the hour to begin the recovery process. Addicts not incarcerated can begin the recovery process that same day. Incarcerated addicts are also still eligible for treatment through the program.
The Princeton Police, Corner House and other Princeton first responders and community service
organizations say they have long dealt with the manifestations of addiction — overdoses, burglaries, thefts, drunk driving and other disorderly person’s offenses and other crimes. The emphasis on providing resources represents an important and welcome paradigm shift, police say.
For more information about Recovery Advocates of America, contact Diana Dubbs at
firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Sgt. Fred Williams of the Princeton Police Safe Neighborhood Unit at 609-921-2100 ext. 1829.