Legislation Improving Access to Addiction Services Moves Forward

Posted on March 16, 2023

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HARTFORD – The Public Safety Committee met on Thursday to act on several bills including, H.B. 6581 An Act Concerning Emergency Intervention by a Police Officer When a Person is Incapacitated by Drugs or Due to a Medical Emergency. The bill was crafted by members of the committee after receiving various similar proposals from individual legislators. One of the main proponents of this concept is State Representative Bill Buckbee (R-New Milford).

“This gives our law enforcement another tool that they can utilize when responding to expected drug overdoses. Individuals who are in crisis are extremely vulnerable and we don’t want to handcuff our law enforcement officers. Right now, many of these interactions end in an arrest and a jail cell when healthcare is the better solution,” said Buckbee, who submitted a similar proposal at the beginning of the legislative session.

In the event of an overdose or medical emergency, the bill would allow police officers to take an individual into protective custody, allowing more time to coordinate the appropriate services for care. The bill specifies that protective custody does not constitute an arrest, and criminal offenses will not be assessed to those who are transported while under protective custody.

“Addiction is a real problem in our community and beyond. The police aren’t interested in making anyone’s battle worse than it already it is. However, without this option available, it can be difficult to get someone to a hospital without repercussions – a stigma this legislation attempts to address,” said Buckbee.

The committee took favorable action on the bill, moving it forward to the House Floor. The legislature will have until the conclusion of the legislative session to vote on it, which ends on Wednesday, June 7th.

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