Southborough Police Chief Kenneth Paulhus spent a good chunk of time at the Board of Selectmen meeting this week. On the agenda, were the selection of a new police officer, requesting approval for a Narcan policy, and discussion of forming a public safety building committee.
Police Officer Hiring
In an unanimous decision, the board approved hiring the chief’s recommended candidate for police officer. Officer Patrick Smith is a third generation police officer who has been most recently working at UMass Boston. Paulhus said much of his decision in choosing between two good candidates was input from his department.
Citing the recent “explosion” of opiate use in the country, Paulhus sought approval for officers to administer Narcan. The board unanimously approved policy subject to town counsel review.
Paulhus explained that opiate addiction (e.g., heroin) used to be thought of as an urban problem. But over the past couple years “a whole other class of people” have become addicted. Since he has been town chief there have been two overdoses in town. And recently, Ashland police used Narcan to save the life of someone they found passed out in a car.
The chief told the board that the Governor has declared the problem a public health emergency. He plans to join with other Metrowest departments to take advantage of a grant providing Narcan for free to be used by police officers.
Paulhus further explained that in the past, responders had to wait for “rescuers” to administer a needle. Now officers who are first on the scene would be able to spray the Narcan same as they would an allergy nasal spray. The nasal spray would be carried with defribillators that officers already use to help in medical emergencies.
He reassured the board of the low risk. He stated that they wouldn’t give it to just anyone found passed out. It would be used only when there was evidence or knowledge of probable opiate use. And if there is a misdiagnosie, there are no side effects.
His plan is to have a policy in place by August. The program would be overseen by a doctor and medical center, and include about an hour training per officer.
Public Safety Building Committee
Earlier in the evening, Town Administrator Mark Purple recommended the board appoint a Public Safety Building Committee. As they look to update the needs assessment, response time survey, etc. But worried that a future building committee would like them to look at things differently. Purple was hoping that by having a building committee help guide them on the information they want, they would move forward more efficiently.
There was concern from some board members about forming a committee prematurely. It was seen as a question of “the chicken and the egg”. They also pointed out that there isn’t a lot of interest in committee work in summer months.
In the end, they decided to have Purple make a more detailed recommendation about a board and charter at their August meeting. But they made clear that they are happy to start hearing from interested applicants for the committee now. (Click here for the official town volunteer form.)