Why Lake County is teaching jail inmates to use naloxone

 
Posted12/8/2017 5:30 AM
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  • Starting this week, inmates at the Lake County jail can receive training on how to use naloxone, the anti-opiate drug that police and first responders have used to save hundreds of overdose victims.

    Starting this week, inmates at the Lake County jail can receive training on how to use naloxone, the anti-opiate drug that police and first responders have used to save hundreds of overdose victims. Courtesy of the Lake County Sheriff's Office

Police officers, first responders and medical practitioners across the suburbs have learned how to administer naloxone, the anti-opiate drug that's saved the lives of hundreds of overdose victims since its use became widespread here in recent years.

Now authorities in Lake County are extending those lessons to a surprising class of citizens: jail inmates.

The Lake County sheriff's office, the county health department and Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities launched a program this week to teach those locked up in the county jail how to use the potentially lifesaving drug.

"There's a lot of dependency out there and different ways of treating it, and we're interested in trying them all," Sheriff Mark Curran told us.

Higher overdose risk

The program, funded by a federal grant, aims to reduce the number of fatal overdoses among people addicted to heroin and other opiates.

"Research determined that former inmates are at high risk for death from drug overdose, especially in the immediate post-release period," health department Executive Director Mark Pfister said. "A person's drug tolerance can diminish during their time in jail, so the risk of overdose is higher."

Curran said he knows of just one similar program taking place in the nation, in Massachusetts.

In Lake County, people entering the jail are screened for a number of issues, including drug addiction. Those who admit to an opiate dependency will receive appropriate medical care and access to substance abuse treatment while in custody.

As the inmate's release date approaches, he or she will be offered individual training on how to use naloxone. A key element of the program is that in exchange for the training and a dose of naloxone upon release, the inmate must agree to meet with a treatment provider once out of custody, Curran said.

The sheriff doesn't worry that training addicts to administer naloxone will encourage more opiate use.

"That's a question that shows a lack of understanding of the realities of addiction," he said. "I don't think there are addicts out there saying, 'I've got naloxone, let's go have a heroin party.'"

Instead, he said, the naloxone could give addicts who relapse another chance at recovery.

"If you fall down, it's not over," he said. "You get back up and try again tomorrow."

Elk Grove mourns police dog

Elk Grove Village police dog Kim, here with officer Steve O'Neill at the 2015 police dog Olympics, died last month. Kim served with the department for more than eight years before retiring in December 2015.
Elk Grove Village police dog Kim, here with officer Steve O'Neill at the 2015 police dog Olympics, died last month. Kim served with the department for more than eight years before retiring in December 2015. - Courtesy of Rick Meyers

Elk Grove Village police are paying tribute to longtime police dog Kim, who died late last month.

Kim joined the department in September 2007 and faithfully served alongside officer Steve O'Neill for eights years, a department official told the Daily Herald.

She retired in December 2015 but continued to live with O'Neill and his family. At her retirement ceremony, then-police Chief Stephen Schmidt said that during her career Kim responded to 2,045 incidents, helped make 166 arrests, found two suspects during building searches, and helped recover drugs and $224,884 cash.

Conviction stands in hotel attack

A former Harper College athlete has lost his bid for a new trial on charges he brutally beat and robbed a guest at a Schaumburg hotel in 2011.

Mitchell Barnes
Mitchell Barnes -

Mitchell Barnes, 25, is serving a 23-year prison term for the attack that left a guest at the Homewood Studio Suites with a fractured spine, cracked ribs, partly collapsed lung and fractured thyroid cartilage.

Barnes, formerly of Barrington, appealed his home invasion and robbery convictions, claiming his judge showed "antagonism and bias" toward his defense lawyer and improperly blocked evidence of the victim's criminal record. That evidence would have bolstered Barnes' self-defense case, the appeal argued.

But in a unanimous 43-page decision, the appellate court found that the victim's convictions -- for resisting arrest and battery 21 years earlier -- happened so long ago they weren't relevant to what happened at the Schaumburg hotel.

As for the judge's bias, the appellate court noted that while the judge at times admonished Barnes' lawyer in front of jurors, she "did not display a specific bias or prejudice against defense counsel through unwarranted comments."

At his trial, witnesses testified that Barnes came up with the plan to rob the victim, who was staying in a room across the hall from one of the Barrington man's friends. Police say Barnes knocked on the victim's door, pushed his way inside, then tackled, punched and choked him while a co-defendant took the man's cash and credit cards.

Update

Last month, we wrote about the appellate court tossing out the conviction and 37-year prison sentence of an Elgin man convicted of repeatedly molesting a young girl between 2007 and 2011.

After taking some time to think it over, Kane County prosecutors told us this week they've decided they will try Armando Vega again on the charges. A retrial date has not been set.

Scam alert

ComEd is warning business owners that scam artists are counting on their fear of losing business during the busy holiday season.

Callers claiming to be from ComEd have been telling businesses they've failed to pay their bills and their power will be shut off unless payment is made within the hour.

But ComEd says power is never shut off without several notifications. And it won't ask you to pay with a prepaid debit or a gift card.

We've even heard of people getting these calls in Geneva. The scammers don't realize or don't care that Genevans don't get their power from ComEd; they get it from the city.

• Got a tip? Send an email to copsandcrime@dailyherald.com or call (847) 427-4483.

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