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  • Writer's pictureJoe Capozzi

EXCLUSIVE: PBSO deputies will carry Narcan, Sheriff Ric Bradshaw says in policy reversal

Updated: Aug 17, 2022

IN A MAJOR policy reversal, Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw today announced his deputies will start carrying Narcan, the brand name of the drug naloxone that reverses the effects of opioids.

“In view of the current national opioid overdose epidemic and the large importations of fentanyl, we have decided to allow our deputies to carry Narcan,’’ Bradshaw wrote in a letter to Palm Beach County commissioners.

“This falls short of a long-term solution to the addiction problem,’’’ he said. “The focus needs to be on education, prevention and treatment.’’

PBSO will study the effectiveness of the new policy over the next three years then decide whether to continue it.

He said his office will need about $200,000 to arm deputies with Narcan. County commissioner Melissa McKinlay, upon receiving Bradshaw’s letter, said she would ask staff to add the money to next year’s budget.

“Prevention & treatment remain the best options, of course, but this may save the life that leads someone to treatment,’’ McKinlay wrote on her Facebook page.

County Administrator Verdinia Baker told McKinlay in an email that she would "speak with the Sheriff on this issue and add it to our issues list for our first public hearing.''

As reported here last month, Bradshaw's refusal to carry naloxone has been a bone of contention with recovery advocates for years.

Recovery advocates applauded Bradshaw's reversal but wondered why it took so long.

“I am breathless,’’ Maureen Kielian of Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates, who has led a campaign to pressure Bradshaw to reverse his policy.

“I can’t believe that after eight years we are going to save lives in Palm Beach County and have more families preserved from destruction.

Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw

Recovery advocates weren’t the only ones pushing for PBSO to carry Narcan. A Palm Beach Power Poll survey of community leaders in July found widespread support for the policy change.

Kielian said her campaign was "a community-wide effort that unfortunately includes people who have lost loved ones due to the lack of naloxone not being available to some of our first responders.’’

A recent Florida law-enforcement survey conducted by Ocala police Lt. Sandra Duryea found that sheriff’s in 44 counties and 27 police departments issue Narcan to their deputies to be administered by police officers or citizens.

“Why should your life resuscitation be dependent on the county you live in?’’ McKinlay asked a top PBSO official during a contentious debate last month about the agency's refusal to carry naloxone.

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About the author

Joe Capozzi is an award-winning reporter based in Lake Worth Beach. He spent more than 30 years writing for newspapers, mostly at The Palm Beach Post, where he wrote about the opioid scourge, invasive pythons, the birth of the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches and Palm Beach County government. For 15 years, he covered the Miami Marlins baseball team. Joe left The Post in December 2020.View all posts by Joe Capozzi.

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