YPD call takers to get training for new good samaritan law

By Joe Gorman



City 911 call takers and supervisors will begin training later this month on a new state law that allows someone to report a drug overdose without facing criminal charges, if the offense is classified as a minor drug offense.

Police Capt. Kevin Mercer, who heads up training for the department, said people will not be charged if the amount of drugs on hand amounts to a misdemeanor or a fifth-degree felony, the lowest degree of felony there is.

Drug possession offenses are classified by degree of felony by the weight of drugs found. The higher the weight, the higher the felony up to a first-degree felony. A fifth-degree felony or misdemeanor is when a small amount of drugs is found.

Mercer said under the new law, someone has to tell a call taker when calling for help that the call is for an overdose and there are drugs present, or the call taker will tell the caller that they may be eligible for immunity if they are calling about a drug offense.

The law states that the call taker must make a “reasonable effort” to inform callers that they may be eligible for immunity.

The call taker will then tell the dispatcher, who will tell officers who are responding that the person who called may be eligible for immunity, Mercer said.

If the caller does not disclose the information, Mercer said officers will take any drugs at the scene of the overdose as evidence and give them to the vice squad, for weighing and determining the degree of felony that should be charged, or if a felony charge is warranted at all.

Training will begin next week for the department’s 13 full-time call takers, three part-time call takers, four supervisors and the supervisor of the 911 center. Mercer said it is hoped the training will be completed by the end of October.

Gov. John Kasich in June signed House Bill 110, which contained the proposal, into law, to help counter the number of people who have been dying from heroin overdoses because they will be arrested if they call for help.

Also under the law, people who receive immunity will receive a referral within 30 days for drug treatment and they must complete the treatment in order to get the immunity,

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