WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The majority of Florida law enforcement agencies carry naloxone, also known as Narcan, which is used to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose in emergency situations. Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office deputies are one of the few who don't.
On Thursday, the Southeast Florida Recovery Advocates are pushing to change that.
The group is holding a protest and candlelight vigil outside Palm Beach County Sheriff Ric Bradshaw's office in hopes of changing the policy requiring all law enforcement officers to carry naloxone.
Protesters will carry banners displaying the names of people who died due to drug overdoses. They will also have a candlelight vigil to remember those lost, those still struggling and those in recovery.
Maureen Kielian with Recovery Advocates says, with overdose death on the rise, if each officer is required to carry naloxone, it could save countless lives.
"The first arriver needs to act emergently and administer Narcan, naloxone, and save a life," Kielian said.
"Sometimes, it's like, I can't take it anymore," Kielian said. "It's like, how many more deaths, who's kid has to die to make this happen? Or whose husband? Or whose wife? Or what elected official has to die? Because addiction is everywhere."
According to the most recent data the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, overdose deaths soared to a record-high of 93,000 in 2020.
In a statement, a Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office spokeswoman said they do not believe there's a need for deputies to carry naloxone since medical personnel carry it, and they are often called to a scene at the same time or before them "at least 99% of the time."
The event is set to run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at 3874 Kyoto Gardens Drive in Palm Beach Gardens.