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Police would be allowed to take overdose patients into custody under a new Connecticut bill

Dimitris Kalogeropoylos

In Connecticut, a key legislative committee has approved a controversial bill that would allow police officers to place overdose patients into protective custody. It now goes to the state General Assembly for action.

The state Public Safety Committee voted overwhelmingly to support the bill. Proponents include Greg Howard, the ranking House Republican on the committee.

It’s needed to provide legal protection for police officers doing their job by taking a narcotics overdose patient into protective custody, he said.

“Each time a police officer compels somebody to do something whether it is physically or not, it is constituted as use of force,“ Howard said. “What this seeks to do is provide some statutory enabling language for those officers when they compel these individuals to go to the hospital to get the medical attention they need until they are of sound mind to make their own decisions.”

Opponents argue that the bill is not needed. The state Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services and organized EMTs say the language of the bill needs more work.

Similar bills in the past couple of years have failed to win approval in the state General Assembly.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.