Editorial: OPP Should Communicate About Opioid Arrests Not Awareness

Posted: 2020-09-05 10:12:38 By: thebay


This week the Huntsville Detachment of the OPP held an opioid public awareness campaign.

The idea behind the campaign was to “raise awareness and educate our community members to reduce harm related to opioids.” Daily news releases were geared towards preventing overdoses, recognizing the signs of potential overdose, support for those seeking help with their addictions, removing stigmas and more.

There were also several links to health agencies and addiction supports given out each day as part of the campaign.

While opioid addiction is a major concern and the messaging itself deserves kudos; one must ask why the OPP – whose jobs it is to serve and protect this community – is dedicating resources to messaging that is better left to health professionals?

Helping promote health partners’ work is one thing. Taking on their communications role is a completely different story altogether.

The brief discussion of prevention said nothing of arresting drug dealers, eliminating drug dens and keeping our community safe from the dangers of those who profit from feeding others’ addictions.

As well as the dangers of addicted individuals who commit crimes like theft and armed robbery to feed the addictions.

The only mention of this was in the Friday news release, which had a section stating: “Remember The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act applies to anyone seeking emergency support during an overdose, including the person experiencing an overdose. The act protects the person who seeks help, whether they stay or leave from the overdose scene before help arrives. The act also protects anyone else who is at the scene when help arrives.”

It goes on to tell the readers what this Act can and can’t protect you from.

The act can protect you from charges for possession of a controlled substance (i.e., drugs) under  section 4(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act; charges for possession of cannabis under section 8(1) of the Cannabis Act; breach of conditions regarding simple possession of controlled substances (i.e., drugs) in parole, pre-trial release (bail), probation orders, conditional sentences.

The act does not provide legal protection against more serious offences, such as production and trafficking of controlled substances; outstanding warrants; violating conditions of your parole, pre-trial release (bail), probation order or conditional sentence for an offence that is not simple possession; all other criminal offences.

Instead of an opioid awareness campaign and telling drug addicts how to avoid legal trouble, how about a news release stating how many drug offences occurred this year? How many of those were production and trafficking of a narcotic? How many were simple possession crimes? How many violent crimes occurred where the accused was found to be under the influence of a narcotic?

The answers to these questions are far more valuable and pertinent to the community at large.

The community deserves to know what is being done to eliminate drug dealers and dangerous drug addicted individuals from our streets. The community should demand more transparency from its law enforcement professionals in this regard.

The community deserves to see reports about arrests made and for what crimes – specifically when it comes to drugs and violent acts.  It’s a fact that reporting of these crimes have gone from several a day to a few a month, over the past few years. 

Communicating with the community about these matters is far more important than putting resources into a campaign which gathers its information from health professionals.